HSC and my peace of mind
It was early January when I first got to know about the outbreak of Covid-19 in China. Back then, very few people were anticipating a pandemic, and I wasn't one of them.
Being an HSC examinee, I focused on my preparation as I had been preparing myself for the past two years. When I was days away from appearing for my final board exam, coronavirus first broke out in Bangladesh. Having read news about lockdown in countries dealing with the outbreak, I knew what that meant for HSC candidates: more time for preparation and revision.
While the spread of the virus to Bangladesh did scare me to an extent, truth be told, I was also somewhat happy because an imminent shutdown translated to postponement of HSC and that in turn meant more time for quality revision.
The first few weeks were marked by relaxation and a break from study. I was naïve to think that this indefinitely long pseudo-lockdown would help me in preparing myself better for HSC, but in truth, it did the opposite. I started forgetting most of the material I went through in the past and lost determination to go through it again. With the progression of time, my impatience for taking the exam kept growing since there was no indication of any tentative exam schedule. As no deadline was in sight, any intention of studying for HSC properly was on hold too.
Does studying even make sense if I don't know how long my memory has to retain everything? All of this paved the way for my daily dose of cumulative stress. The fear of losing friends and family was added to it as well since every now and then I would hear news of acquaintances getting affected by or dying due to Covid-19.
Fast forward to August, I've lost the mentality to appear for HSC. Rumours of institutions reopening amidst the pandemic are circulating nowadays; they terrify me. While I want to see the end of this viral horror so that normal life can resume, I don't want a hurried resumption of normal life either as this would inevitably lead to HSC. I heavily doubt if I can still achieve the result which I expected from myself before March. If HSC takes place at any cost, numerous students like me would fail to obtain their desired grades and marks, which would further worsen our mental health.
Furthermore, Bangladesh is still in the first wave of this pandemic whereas numerous countries have already entered the second wave. Even if the situation does improve in Bangladesh and the government decides to hold the HSC exams, this might trigger the second wave in Bangladesh and some of the exams might need to be rescheduled again, and dates being changed mid-exam is the last thing any candidate would want. These are the reasons why I can't stress enough how I wish the authorities seriously considered predictive grades as an alternative to holding HSC (multiple countries have taken similar steps to my knowledge). That way, HSC examinees would have one fewer thing to worry about (as if worrying about university admission season weren't enough).
Only time can tell what lies ahead of HSC 2020 candidates. Perhaps predictive grades will be considered to lessen our burden, or the wait for exam dates will extend indefinitely as everyone's anxiety worsens daily.
The writer is an HSC candidate from Notre Dame College, Dhaka.