So the object of much anxiety arrives. Up until about two weeks before it had always felt like they were miles away and then suddenly they were right on top of us. Exams two weeks away! Ahhh! Mostly everyone in my class needed to pass in order to take classes in Russian the next year (which I couldn’t imagine being able to do after only 6 months–they were college classes, in Russian. How?!?!?!), but I didn’t so my fear wasn’t entirely as founded as it was for them, though I wanted to make sure that I at least passed so that the course would transfer and count as credit at my college in the US. I don’t know how important it was for that to happen, considering that I had all the credits I needed to graduate. But I was also concerned for my scholarships and things; it’s always better when you pass your classes, right?
We had an exam in each class, so five altogether. The Phonetics class’ exam was just that we had to write a letter to a friend about a certain topic. There were 9 (actually 10 but they said one wasn’t going to be on because it was too hard–about our home country) topics, and on the day of the exam we would pick a slip of paper at random and have to write about whatever topic was on the slip. Topics included: My Family, My Hometown, My University, My Dormitory, My Weekday, My Weekend, Holidays of My Home Country, Russian Holidays, and Yekaterinburg. Every week throughout the course we’d get a different topic to write a practice letter about. It was really great though cause the teacher (remember, she was the great pictionary one) would go through it with us in class and help us to write it. We’d write it sentence by sentence as a class. With topics like My Hometown and Holidays of My Home Country, where the letters would be different for each person, she would help us individually too. It was great because the repetitions of the introductions (greetings) and the ends of the letters each week made them easy to remember and it was really just the middle part about the topic that you had to change for each letter. When time came closer for exams I just made sure to memorize the beginning and end of the letter and study certain phrases that would help for the different topics. I got Russian Holidays on the day of the exam, which most people thought was one of the the hardest ones, but it was relatively easy because we lived through all the holidays and there was plenty to write about.
Another good thing was that a lot of the writing ones overlapped with the speaking exam topics. Speaking, for me, was the scariest exam (though most people thought of it as one of the easiest) because you had to talk with the teacher about whatever topic you picked in front of the whole class. Now, we were totally used to messing up in front of each other by that point, but still there is a level of embarrassment when it’s for an exam and you know everybody’s listening. The topics of Speaking were: Russian Cooking, My Future Profession, Transport, The Doctor, Cultural Activities, and a bunch that overlapped with the Phonetics ones; My Hometown, Yekaterinburg, Russian Holidays, My Dormitory, My Weekday, and My Weekend. So, 11 altogether. The ones from Writing I didn’t have to worry about because they were all set, I just neede to make sure I could remember key vocab for the other topics. On the day of the actual exam, it was actually pretty good because we could use a dictionary at first to make some notes and also my favorite teacher was there before the speaking teacher and the head of the department (who would also be listening in on the exam) got there and she let us pick a few times in order to get topics we were better prepared for. I ended up with My Weekday and it was pretty good. The department head asked me a few questions (mostly stuff about the kids) and I was super nervous and it was totally obvious in my voice, but since I sat in the front of the class, I actually went first and didn’t have to talk super loud because of that so only the teachers really had to hear me and I could feel more like I was just talking with them and not the whole class. Also it was good because we practiced twice in class a few days before and that made it easier.
The two easiest exams were Reading and Listening. The listening exam was my total favorite because we practiced a whole bunch of times and by the time the real one came around it felt comfortable. The listening exam was a single sheet of paper that had some questions, broken into two sections–probably about 6-8 questions for each. The two sections were read to us, twice each (once slow then once normal speed), and then we had to answer the questions. While they were being read we could take notes on a paper. The first was a dialogue between two people and the second was a notice about an event on a college campus. The questions were about the time the people in the dialogue would meet, why, who they talked about bringing, things like that. The second section had questions about what the event was, when, where, what you needed to bring to attend, ect. A lot of people found this one hard because they thought they talked too fast but I really liked it because we had had so many opportunities to prepare. The Reading exam was also modeled on stuff we did regularly in class. It was four or five pages of multiple choice and matching and things based on certain reading sections. I also liked this one mostly because we had done so much that was similar to it in class.
The final one was Grammar. This was the one I ended up doing the worst on (because Russian grammar=HARD) but since I kind of knew I was going to pass but not exceptionally well, and cause we had done a few practice runs in class, I wasn’t overly worried about it. It was kind of like I knew the dragon well enough to understand the kind of beating I should be expecting from it. It was a little over a hundred multiple choice questions, mostly where you had to choose the best option to finish the sentence and stuff. So to do that you had to know what case was needed and what cases were presented in the choices and pick the right one. Some were with plurals and other things we had to know, like prepositions and other types of agreement, but cases were the hardest. On the practice exams I got 60 out of 75 (80%, or a 3, which is a C) and 132 out of 160 (83%, or a 4, which is a B). I was pretty happy with those numbers, considering, so it was okay with me.
I ended up passing all my exams, with my lowest being a 3 in Grammar (the didn’t give us the final breakdown on how many we got right or wrong, just the numerical grade). I actually got a 5 in Listening, which was awesome (an A). The rest, even Speaking, I got 4s on. Overall I was really happy that my first-day fears didn’t come to fruition; I not only passed, but did really really well on most of them, and it wasn’t as traumatic as I had feared.