‘On stage to on screen’: My virtual exam experience | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

‘On stage to on screen’: My virtual exam experience

17 October, 2021

Speech and Drama – for me, from the age of four, that meant yearly preparations for an examination. At first, I was really afraid – having to meet a stranger from a foreign land – and performing poetry and prose ‘on stage’! But gradually, I got used to the Trinity College, London exams at the Polytechnic in Colombo.

But, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all that changed for me!

The whole world has been facing the Covid - 19 pandemic since November 2019, when China had this outbreak in their city Wuhan. However, in Sri Lanka, we didn’t feel it much until early 2020.

It was after March 2020, soon after we had our ‘Big Match’ that I remember the first lockdown, when all of us started doing online schooling via the Zoom platform.

Sadly, our elocution exams were not held in 2020. We thought it would be held physically at some point.

With the dawn of 2021 we still faced Covid-19, and our foreign examiners were unable to visit Sri Lanka. We had to make a decision – to prepare for the virtual exams! It was a first-time experience for me as well as for my teachers too.

I remember how my teacher informed us about it and then sent all the details to my mother. The classes were held online, and all preparations were done accordingly.

Two days before the exam we usually have a mock exam – this time, it was just like before, but this time, it was all virtual – on Zoom! My teacher said to have enough data (at least 10GB) and to have the mobile hotspot switched on, as standby too.

We were worried if there could be a power cut too – what if the device shuts down while I am reciting my poem? What if the examiner cannot hear me? Even though I have faced many foreign exams, this virtual exam made me very nervous.

I also remember how I set the room up to suit the exam. Shifting the tables from this corner to the other, setting the camera on the iPad where the examiner can see me fully. I kept the books underneath and tested from my end. It was drama at home between my mother and I.

We asked everyone in the household to be silent. I was also worried if my dog would start barking at the time of the exam!

Finally, it was time, I got dressed just like I would if going for the physical exam – and it all happened so fast. After presenting myself to the examiner, and finishing my selected prose, poems and discussion, the examiner (a very kind gentleman!) finally asked, “Now, that the exam is complete, will you be going out for lunch?” I smiled and replied, “No, Sir, we are unable due to the current situation of the country.”

I was tense about the entire virtual exam.

Yet, with all that nervousness there was excitement too and I am glad I had an experience like that! While I’m impatiently waiting for my exam results, I am hopeful that soon, we will all get to meet in person again.


Riveen Perera

Grade 9

S. Thomas’ College

Mount Lavinia