Collections are the mock exams that many a woefully underprepared student must tackle upon their return to Oxford, following an unproductive Christmas break. They are infamous for their astonish- ingly high death tolls – the especially tragic round of collections which claimed the lives of 92 Somervillians last year is still fresh in all our minds. This, therefore, is an essential guide on how to survive collections: it could just save your life.
Since they’re the closest you’ll be able to get to the real thing, it would be wise to treat your collections like your final exams. You best fritter all your precious time away through procrastination, consume so much caffeine your heart rate skyrockets into quadruple gures, and spend every night in the run up to your paper lying motionless atop the duvet on your bed, swimming (or more precisely drowning) in existential dread. If you manage to get any actual learning done, or come away with an improved exam technique, I suppose that would be a convenient bonus.
To make the most of the time available in the run up to collec- tions, it’s vital that you create your own complaining timetable: this will enable your infantile moaning and whinging to have its maximal impact by contributing absolutely nothing whatsoever to your overall mark in your collection whilst boring anybody unfortunate enough to be within earshot. Give yourself suf cient time to produce detailed notes from which you can give rousing, several page-long essays about why collections are pointless – you’ll be thanking yourself when you’re caught off guard by someone asking whether you have collections or not.
Another great way to prepare for your collections is by binge- watching the Netflix original hit show Narcos. Retelling the epic story of the hunt for Pablo Escobar (the Colombian drug kingpin who smuggled 15 tons of cocaine into the United States every day at the height of his smuggling operation). Wagner Moura’s phenomenal portrayal of the Medellín Cartel’s leader makes for a compelling watch, which is perfect for taking your mind off collections and reducing your stress levels. Once you’ve had the opportunity to chill out and relax after watching 30 hours of adrenaline-fuelled crime drama television, you’ll be in the perfect frame of mind to tackle revision – provided you’re not thinking about how badass Agent Peña is.
It’s also important to treat yourself for working hard. If you believe your collections have gone well, you should buy yourself a nice beer to celebrate. If, however, you think they didn’t go that well (or even abysmally), get yourself a large bottle of whisky. Nothing too nice however… you did just screw up your collections. One of the most vital things to prepare ahead of collections is your exit strategy: if you open your paper and discover it’s even worse than you expected, you need to fall back on a legendary walkout to overcompensate for your predicament. My personal favourite is ipping your table over in a manufactured t of rage whilst yelling ‘fuck this exam!’, before storming out of the room like a total boss.
If none of this is working, you could opt for the far less conventional approach of maintaining a calm, balanced attitude. This consists of getting enough sleep, allowing yourself to take plenty of breaks, and rationalising the situation by keeping in mind that despite the pressure of the situation put upon you by your tutors (and inadvertently heightened by the feedback loop of mass panic precipitated by everybody else sitting them), these tests are ultimately inconsequential.
Take it from someone who scraped a third in their collections this time a year ago: you’ll be fine.