Exams are a painful but necessary part of school life.
Anxiety, nerves and last-minute cramming are all to be expected. But what about those especially awful exam mishaps, the kind of panic-inducing incidents that form the basis of nightmares for years to come?
Like the time you spent weeks preparing for an exam only to turn up at the wrong building and miss half the test.
Or the time you took an ill-advised selfie before sitting a GCSE and got disqualified from all public exams for the next 5 years...
Whatever your experience, you can rest assured that something worse has happened to someone else.
Take a look at our top 10 exam horror stories and just be glad it wasn’t you…
“In my first year English exam I wrote a whole essay on the novels of Evelyn Waugh, none of which I had ever read. In classic form I had hurriedly looked up the plots and central themes on SparkNotes the night before and memorised as many as I could. Throughout the essay I referred to ‘her conversion to catholicism’ and the way it impacted ‘her’ work. It was only when I got out of the exam that a friend told me Evelyn Waugh was a man. Oops.”
“10 minutes into my GCSE biology exam a girl sitting next to me projectile vomited all over the girl in front. This then caused a chain reaction of 4 more people in the surrounding area to vomit one after the other. The whole room stank and the people being sick had to be led off by invigilators. We all just had to buckle down whilst they cleaned it up and try to write as much as we could about photosynthesis.”
“I was running late to a music exam, having stayed at home all morning on study leave to do some last minute cramming.
As I was running up the hill to school, a gust of wind blew through a tree and what I can only describe as a sort of berry fell onto the side of my head. It excreted an unbelievable amount of tar-like substance into my hair and all down the collar of my shirt. I wiped it off as best I could with a leaf and an old tissue and sprinted up to school. When I sat down in the classroom I realised it absolutely stank. Something like petrol crossed with an old mop. The smell was so distracting that the girl beside me asked to move - not one of my better moments.
Still managed to scrape an A though.”
“I think my fellow IBS-ers will appreciate this one (IBS and nerves are really not a great combo, FYI)!
I had been cramming really hard the night before a university exam, had barely slept but woke up in the morning and was listening to some relaxing music to chill out and mentally prepare. I felt a bit unwell but just passed it off as nerves. Got to the exam hall, ready to sit the 1.5 hour paper and about 20 minutes in I started to feel really unwell, so bad that I could barely concentrate.
I raced through the paper, hardly caring about the answers, then literally sat clockwatching and legitimately praying - I genuinely thought I was going to have THAT Inbetweeners moment. About 10 minutes before the end, the lecturer said we could leave the exam if we were finished. I shot my hand straight up and ran back to my halls (or walked as fast as you can when you’re in crippling pain). Got back to my room thankfully unscathed and you know what the worst part was? I was just really bad, painful flatulence. *Facepalm*.”
“Once during my psychology A-level an invigilator leaned over to read what I was writing and started chuckling. It goes without saying that I did not do very well.”
“When I was studying abroad in America I turned up for a Shakespeare class and realised we had an exam I had completely forgotten to revise for. It was basically just a list of quotes from different plays that we had to identify and I didn’t know a single one. I knew I had to pass the year for my time abroad to qualify back in the UK, so I got out my phone to start surreptitiously Googling the quotes. I got halfway through before I accidentally set off Siri and the words ‘sorry, I didn’t quite get that’ echoed through the room.
My heart nearly failed. The teacher heard, obviously. I got a zero and almost failed the semester.”
“I was so nervous for my maths A-level that I didn’t eat any breakfast. I was fine with this decision until I was sitting in our silent exam hall looking over question 1 and my stomach started rumbling so loudly that people three rows in front were turning to look at me. An invigilator eventually came over to ask why everybody kept turning around and I had to awkwardly explain that my stomach was growling and there was nothing I could do. She grumpily bought me a biscuit.
To this day I am seriously shocked at how persistent the rumbling was. The paper was 2 hours long and it barely let up once.”
“Once when I finished a uni exam early I was resting my head on my arms whilst I waited for it to finish. I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I knew I had farted so loudly I woke myself up. I could hear people turning in their chairs to look at me.
I had to pretend I was still asleep until the exam was finished and then walk shame faced from the room.”
“I was up late revising for a history mock and began absent-mindedly going over and over my notes with my pen. By midnight I was basically falling asleep on my books - I got up and went to bed.
I got up early the next day to do a bit more cramming and didn’t have enough time to shower. As I was sitting down in the exam room, one of the teaching assistants who was handing out papers looked at me funny and then went over to my teacher to whisper something in her ear. She came and escorted me out of the classroom and then shouted at me for trying to cheat.
Baffled, I asked her what she was talking about. She pointed at my arm. The notes I had distractedly doodled over had printed themselves all the way up it.”
“At uni we used to have exams in one of those huge convention centres. My roommate Toby ran out of clean socks on the morning of our final Spanish exam and so had to wear a novelty Christmas pair. We were midway through our 2 hour paper when Jingle Bells started issuing from under his trousers. The worst thing was you couldn’t get the socks to stop once they had started. Everyone just sat there sniggering whilst it echoed through the room.
The examiner made him take them off and he finished the exam barefoot.”