2:45p.m. It’s a few minutes to the end of the first hour of the class and the lecturer announces, ‘So, now keep all books and other reading materials away!’ A majority of the students are like,’why?’ Those who were asleep are now awake. Apparently, during the first class of the semester, the lecturer had already announced that there would be a CAT on this day.
There are murmurs. Students asking among themselves what on earth is going on. The lecturer reads the mood and breaks the ice. ‘We are having our cat today.’ Most of the students seem anxious. They were not aware. The serious students are well prepared.
Phones are pulled out in a frantic effort to inform the absent legends of the new development. In a few minutes, a majority of these legends find their way to school and quietly sneak in clad in sandals, flip-flops, pyjamas and all manner of crazy dressing. Madam lecturer is puzzled how her class that had about 25 students now has in excess of 150 students.
She distributes the answer sheets before heading out for the question papers. No sooner does she leave than sitting formations change. Movement ensues. From one corner to another. Spacing is minimized. Everyone wants a strategic corner spot next to someone they consider bright. Last minute frantic cramming happens. You would think that one has a photographic memory. A common question asked is, ‘Hii tulisoma when?’ and ‘Hii alifunza siku gani?’
The so called serious students are all calm. Confidence is written all over their faces as they occupy the front row seats. A few godfathers and godmothers are still streaming in with nothing on them. Some of them don’t even have pens. One super godfather actually asks, ‘Hii ni unit gani by the way?’ Sitting arrangements adjustments are still taking place.
“Here are the question papers. Switch off your phones. If I find you with your phone, you know the consequences of exam cheating. Success to you all.” The lecturer says. ‘And I can see a lot of new faces, are you all sure you are in the right place?’ She asks a rhetorical question. Before handing out the question papers, she notes that the room is congested. She randomly points out at some students and directs them to the next room. The CAT is to be undertaken in two rooms owing to the numbers.
Everyone finally settles. A sense of frustration hangs in the air. She dismantled the well crafted formations. As it is now, everyone for him/herself. The question papers are handed out. Immediately, some students are already sweating. Serious students are smiling. The paper contains two questions. One hour is the time indicated. There are those who waste no time and get busy writing. Regret is visible on the faces of the majority.
The lecturer gets a few colleagues to help her with the invigilation. Definitely not a good day to those who had planned to enlist the services of google in the one hour. All the invigilators are hawk-eyed. PDFs become inaccessible. Mwakenyas are rendered redundant. This one hour seems like an eternity. Tears are shed, a lot of nothings are written on the answer sheets, pen stuck get midway, necks are strained as eyes are rolled from one direction to another.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, time is up!’ the lecturer announces. At this point, most put down their pens upon completion. A few increase their writing speed and others just resign to fate. The invigilators collect the answer booklets as the students sign out. Mixed reactions everywhere. Happiness for those who were well prepared, uncertainty for the majority and regret for others. After all is done, a section of the students decide to discuss the two questions. Many are irritated and quickly walk away to drown their sorrows. A certain category are calls on phone with their parents, lovers and friends narrating how the test was.
Only the results will give the true story of exactly what transpired in the exam rooms!!!
Till next week, stay safe.