It’s that time of the year again when I’ve got to prep students on how to do their external exams. I say prep them for the exams because technique takes precedence over knowledge and skill. It’s a sad fact of teaching that creativity must ultimately be stifled in order to facilitate the answering of a question ‘correctly’. This doesn’t necessarily encompass teaching young adults the conventions of literary criticism and the importance of this knowledge in further study nor the enjoyment of literature and an appreciation of its process. Instead there are certain conventions – varied across different exam boards – which students must follow. If the students fail to follow these then their grade will invariably decrease. This brings me to the central question of this article: Is life an exam?