Assembled in rows, single file; your gaze shifts from the back of the head in front of you, to the floor and back to the head again. The distinct scrape of a chair, a muffled cough, a stifled yawn; all cause frequent peaks in the almost silence, bridged only by the sound of occasional murmured words of encouragement.
Orders are barked; those so often repeated that you listen now, more irked than chastened by the edge of the commanding voice. For a while, it seems that the pounding of your heart is all you can hear. You shift our implements between your fingers, adjusting them till you feel adequately comfortable.
The silence now is punctuated by the shuffle, snap, shuffle, snap, as the invigilator places the papers on the desks before you, coming ever closer.
Click. Nibs out.
Pens placed to the surface of paper.
On your marks.
And after a moment or two of hesitation…go.