What’s spookier: a haunted house or a midterm?

It’s Halloween. Spooky things are happening everywhere. Halloween decorations jump out at you on your walk home and that pumpkin on someone’s apartment steps looks like it’s going to sprout legs and run at you.

Oh, the horror! Don’t forget the haunted houses filled with all your favorite horror movie tropes. What could be scarier than that?

Hm — I know! Midterm season in fall semester.

You have exams popping up at you around every corner. Maybe your professor pushed an exam back, but really it’s a horror in disguise. You appreciate the extra study time, but it’s only prolonged your stress. 

The weather is getting colder. The days are getting shorter. More and more of your days are spent in darkness hunched over textbooks. 

The real question is which is worse: your midterm or that haunted house your best friend is making you go to? Let’s think it through.

A murderous butcher on a mission versus no multiple choice

Imagine a man in a white apron with blood all over his face and a freshly sharpened cleaver dripping blood in his right hand. He’s approaching you slowly with a look on his face that’s a cross between desperate hunger and malicious vengeance. You have nowhere to run. Pretty freaky, right? 

Now imagine you sit down in a cold and dimly lit room, and your professor hands you an exam. You look down and all you see is blank space for short answer questions. You realize there’s no multiple choice, which you were banking on to help you get through this midterm. Your hands start sweating and your breathing quickens. You look up to the professor, hoping for an expression of kindness but all you see is a cold blank stare. Much freakier than a murderous butcher.

Feeling around in the dark and feeling something wet versus no open note (not even a note card)

Haley Alvarez-Lauto | Graphic Artist

You’re crawling around this musty haunted house. For some reason the ground is a little moist and you can’t see anything. All of sudden your hand touches something slimy and a little wet. You feel something furry, but not in a soft way. It’s scratchy and lumpy. You immediately jump up and shout “Ew! What was that?”

Sure, that’s a little scary. But what about when your professor tells you the exam that you need to memorize 12 different equations since it’s not an open note exam? You don’t even get a little note card or an equation sheet to use when taking the exam. It’s pure memorization. Which do you think is scarier? The possible dead rat in the musty haunted house or the closed book exam?

Trying to run away from a corpse bride versus having to explain why something is false in a true or false question

A woman in a white dress stained with blood is chasing after you screaming bloody murder. You’re trying to get away but the only way is up a narrow staircase that breaks with every step you take. You have nowhere to run or hide and the only thing you can do is scream and hope she goes away. 

You flip to the second page of your exam and see a true or false section. Yes! Your guessing skills are strong so this should be easy enough. But wait. The test asks you to explain why something might be false. Shoot. You don’t know if you can do that. You barely paid attention in lectures and the only thing getting you through this exam is the skimming of lecture slides you did 30 minutes ago. You’d honestly rather take the corpse bride over this.

Maybe a haunted house is scary. Maybe people trying to kill you are scary. But admit it — nothing is scarier than a midterm you weren’t prepared for. Whichever you’re experiencing, I wish you best of luck and a happy Halloween!

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