Bryan vs the Testing Center

This last week saw me finish up another term at BYU. You know the routine… selling back textbooks, cramming before finals, and then, there’s the testing center.

I have a love-hate relationship with the testing center. We go way back. I’ve said many a desperate prayer while sitting in that expansive room. I’ve had my successes and my failures. I once went to a dance party there. I even used to attend church there.

This time around I found myself engaged in an epic 5-hour battle with my economics exam. It wouldn’t have taken so long had I not become distracted. Who could blame me. Picture me in a huge room with 750 other students, in the middle of allergy season, trying to calculate the Consumer Price Index amid a constant background chorus of sneezes. Usually they were distant… from all the way across the room, but every once in awhile one would hit really close to me. I felt like I was taking a test during the bombing of London.

I started to really tap out at around the 4 hour mark. That’s when everything started getting to me. That kid two rows over who, to his horror, had just run out of pencil lead and was clicking his pencil over and over in despair. The people walking down the aisles, knocking peoples’ tests off their desks. Test takers who can’t seem to put their backpacks under their chairs. I was in a bad state. Then a student sat down next to me and before he even opened his test booklet, he reached into his backpack and pulled out a pudding snack pack and a spoon.


Well, eventually I pulled myself together, killed the beast and got out of there. It’s a good feeling to have your finals behind you and no homework in sight. However, there is one thing that I always try to remember to do at the end of each semester: My top 10 things list.

As as student I am fully aware that despite all I learn in each class, it’s unlikely that I’ll remember any of it. If I reviewed my notes a few years later, it’s unlikely that I would be able to decipher them. Even if I could keep all my textbooks, it would be unlikely that I’d find time to read them. Consequently, top 10 things list is an attempt to boil down the principles of each class I take into 10 main points that I want to take away and remember for the rest of my life. It’s a chore to make the list but it is totally worth it. I mean, just look at some of the ones I’ve made:

I like these lists so much that I’m still trying to do them for the classes I missed. I hope to have a book of “top 10 things” that summarizes the richest and best lessons that I can pull out of college. In fact, I’d advocate making such a list at the end of each new stage of life. There is something valuable about reflecting back on what we’ve done. Even if that means reliving those hours in the testing center.