This story goes back a few decades…
When I was 15 I decided to leave school and get a job. School was boring, and leaving part-way through was clearly a step forward in my career as Black Sheep of the Family, with special expertise at Letting My Parents Down.
A couple of years later, I had a sensible moment and decided it would be a good idea to get a Bagrut certificate anyway (that’s what you usually get in Israel at the age of 18, when you finish high school, and it’s essential if you want to go to university; it’s also pretty helpful generally when applying for jobs). There are special colleges where you can prepare for the Bagrut exams if you’re not at school – usually evening classes, so that you can attend if you’re working. But me, I chose the correspondence course route.
Now, as some of you already know, I have strong procrastination tendencies. Take a procrastinator and put her on a correspondence course, and what do you get? Especially as there were absolutely no deadlines, no assignments to send in – they just sent me the course material all in one go, and left me to it. My one and only deadline for each subject was the date of the exam.
So I did absolutely nothing during the year, and then a week before each exam I crammed like crazy, keeping sleep down to a very bare minimum, living on sandwiches because they take less time, and then I’d do the exam and… in most subjects, I’d pass. You see, the reason I found school boring was because I was blessed with a high IQ, and school simply didn’t demand enough of me. So cramming for a week was enough for me – in most subjects…
One of the compulsory subjects was maths, but we were free to choose out of three different levels. Seeing as I’d been brilliant at maths at school, it seemed obvious that I’d go for the highest level. And my guess is that if I’d sat down and studied during the year, I could have passed. But trying to cram two years’ worth of high-level maths in a week – no, that really doesn’t work, not even if you’re clever.
I sat the exam and got a mark that I didn’t even know existed. In the Israeli school system, 6 out of 10 is the minimum pass mark, and people sometimes got a 5, which was a kind of “bare pass”, with the worst mark being a 4, which was a fail.
I got 2 out of 10.
I swallowed my pride, applied to resit maths at the lowest level, and got 10 out of 10.
This was also pretty good on the Letting My Parents Down front :)