Examination board season: truly, it is a dull and painful affair

Looking for a surefire way to alleviate the boredom of an exam board meeting? Bingo

June 25, 2017
Bingo card
Source: iStock

It’s that time of year. The students have sat their examinations; the marking is complete; the moderation and numerical checking are done and dusted. There’s just one thing remaining. Yep; the examination boards.

In my own institution, the official board meeting is a tedious affair; simply a run-through of final marks achieved by students, progression decisions for non-graduating cohorts, and confirmation of awards for those at the end of their programmes. It’s generally a dull affair, with no contentious issues or disagreements to be raised – primarily because all of that has happened in the internal board meeting the week before. No need to wash the dirty laundry in front of the external examiner now, is there?

Unlike some more innovative institutions, our exam boards are still paper-based, so there is no opportunity to catch up on emails under the guise of scrutinising a mark sheet. No, we just have to sit there, with reams of A3 sheets in front of us. Several sheets for each year group for our nine undergraduate and 11 postgraduate taught programmes. 

Truly, it is a dull and painful affair. Think an early 1980s Michael Foot party political broadcast combined with ingrowing toenail removal without anaesthetic, and you’re about one-third of the way there.

Over the years I have attempted many different ways of alleviating the boredom. I have counted carpet tiles. I have made mental bets with myself over two raindrops sliding down a window pane. I have filled in the little hole on every lowercase “e” on every sheet of paper placed in front of me, and I have tested my recall of the Greek alphabet. 

However, last year I struck upon a brainwave that I’m sharing with everyone now in that hope that it may alleviate the excruciating boredom for any fellow sufferers. 

My solution to this seemingly intractable problem? Quite simple: Exam Board Bingo! There are few rules to this deceptively simple, yet highly entertaining game. Simply cross off a word or phrase when used during the board meeting.  You can play for a line (horizontal, vertical or even diagonal), or a full house. You can play on your own, or with friends. 



Just take care not to give the game away by shouting “House!” at an in appropriate moment. Enjoy!

The author of Academic Ramblings works at a UK university and will be writing regularly for Times Higher Education. For more blogs like this, visit the Academic Ramblings site.

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