Exam Time at RMCC Truly Unique

Exam Time at RMCC Truly Unique

By: 27421 OCdt (I) Melissa Sanfaçon – 6 Squadron

With the end of the semester, and the holiday season approaching rapidly, that can only mean one thing; exams. Though I’m sure everyone is grateful for the break that follows, there is not much that can take away from the stress of exams. This time of the year provides a different experience for everyone at RMC. For many of the first years, this is their first time writing a university exam, marking a milestone in their studies. For the fourth years, this set of exams brings them one step closer to graduation; which is surely an exciting time. But even these academic accomplishments are unable to detract from the stress and exhaustion that are unavoidable at this time of year.

Though all of this is typical for life as a university student, exam time at RMC appears to me to be truly unique. Having attended a civilian university prior to my time here, I have been through exams and seen the stress and exhaustion. But I have never seen students so dedicated to helping one another even when dealing with their own studies. The unique qualities of an officer cadet do not cease to exist when times get a bit tough, and it is truly remarkable to see. Walking down the hallway to my room, passing by equation covered white boards, and students going out of their way to help one another makes me appreciate being a member of the cadet wing. This type of interaction is something that you do not come across at any other school.

Exams are unavoidable, cause endless stress and sleepless nights, and are generally associated with all things negative. With some hard work and the help from other officer cadets, success is possible, and the long-awaited winter holidays immediately following will make all of the hard work worthwhile.


  • Binu Mukherjee

    December 8, 2014 at 2:12 am

    As a former Professor and Head of the Physics Department at RMC, I am surprised by the assumption that “exams cause endless stress and sleepless nights, and are generally associated with all things negative”! The proper objective of a student should be to “master” a subject at the level taught. This cannot be done by studying for exams but rather by a system of continuous and effective study. This includes several techniques including rewriting one’s daily class notes, writing summaries, lying in bed and pretending to explain the day’s lecture to an imaginary classmate who missed the class, creating a mental structure of the whole course and placing the day’s lecture in context, etc.. In science and engineering, one should not even try to solve problems until such work has been done and a proper understanding of theory has been obtained. The problems then provide a check of the understanding. In this manner one develops an understanding that not only helps to pass exams but remains with one for the rest of one’s life (and helps in understanding the courses that follow later in life). The process itself helps to provide structure to the mind and to develop it more generally. An exam should be welcomed as an opportunity to test oneself and one’s mental development. In some parts of the world semester exams are optional and the important exams at the end of 4 years of study are on the whole 4 years of study. The methods that I have suggested then become the only applicable methods of study and the last few days before the exam should be used to relax and rest the mind rather than in last minute memorising that only confuses the mind. Above all a student should never forget that the ONLY REASON for coming to university is to develop oneself as a human being and, in particular, the academic side’s purpose is to develop the mind. All activities should be designed to help that process. A proper understanding of the object and the methods of education should make it both a profitable and pleasurable experience. Another important point to remember is that, just as one’s muscles can only be developed through our exercising them at the limit of their abilities, the mind only develops through its own exercises, performed at the highest limits of its abilities, and not through anyone else’s efforts (e.g. the professor’s).

  • Alain Brizard (12027)

    December 8, 2014 at 11:00 am

    I remember fondly exam time at CMR Saint-Jean (1974-1979). I drew energy from exams and I fully agree with Professor Mukherjee that each exam (at least in math and physics) was “a profitable and pleasurable experience”. I often tell my own students before an exam that they have to choose between two musical themes playing in their heads as they enter an exam room: either the theme from the movie “Jaws” or “The Ride of Valkyries”. The first one signals gloom and doom and almost certainly guarantees failure; the second one signals a fight with a worthy opponent.

  • Jen Ochej

    December 8, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Melissa, it was great to meet you yesterday evening. Best of luck in your exams and enjoy the break afterward! You deserve it. :)

  • Graham Keene (10700)

    December 8, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Professor Mukherjee is ultimately correct in his description of the utopian academic student and he cannot be faulted for his beliefs in theory. However I would suggest that there are many highly motivated cadets and others that would not agree with him in practice although very much so in theory. It was my experience (and by the way I was never a top academic cadet) that although aware of what I should be doing on a daily basis such as “lying in bed pretending to explain the day’s lecture to an imaginary classmate..” I just ran out of time in my day. With all due respect to Professor Mukherjee, I doubt in his undergraduate academic year his week was filled with 40 hours of academic classes which included for the engineering student numerous mandatory humanities and military courses such as psychology, French, International Studies, English Literature and so on. The mandatory after class sports program, and extra curricular activities such as drill, band, parades etc. adds to the remaining time taken away in one’s living week. Then there are squadron meetings, room inspections, dress inspections and inspections to inspect the inspections. So as an ex cadet I understand what OCdt Sanfacon is saying. I can assure you Professor Mukherjee that I remember very well going into my exams feeling very nervous despite knowing that I did it before and will do it well again. Stress is not a dirty word and is not the same for everyone in intensity or threshold. I have learned in my career that stress can be healthy and not to be viewed as a sign of being ill prepared. As a final note I found myself moving closer to your philosophy of study in my Post Graduate years (at RMC) where a higher level of daily self examination of what I had learned was a luxury that I could now afford due to a program that more closely resembled that of a civilian university in hours and intensity.

  • Doug Moore, 11127

    December 8, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    I remember exam routine just as you describe it. No assumptions, pure experience and observation; the product of an average milcol day that allowed 4 waking hours of study outside the classroom to cover 12-14 programmed hours. The profs who truly appreciated the reality of officer cadets were jewels.
    Clearly you aren’t letting it get you down; you will overcome! TDV