I have certainly experienced exam jitters in my day, and I have shown up for more than one test feeling inadequately prepared, but the outcome has never been so grim as to justify these continuing nightmares. In fact, I usually excelled at school, nerd that I was. The one vivid memory I have of giving up on a test halfway through makes me laugh rather than cringe. It was for a third-year East Asian Studies course at university. I had been too busy cramming for other mid-terms to devote sufficient time to this one. I came across a question regarding the I Ching, also known as the Book of Changes. I was asked to name the other Chinese classics. I remember sitting there, in the second row of desks, thinking, "Book of.... what? I have no idea. Book of... matches. Hee hee. Yeah, Book of Matches." I wrote that down. Next I wrote The Book of Love, the Book of Cookies (the special feature at a local bakery which was being widely advertised on radio in those days), Guinness Book of Records, Book of the Month Club... any goofy thing I could come up with.
Short on knowledge and even shorter on sleep, I began to regard my silly answer as terribly amusing. I tried to suppress my snickering. Naturally, it grew from snickering to chuckling to guffawing, all internal, and then it burst out of me in the form of a very loud snort. Typical. Still shaking with laughter, I packed up my things, handed in my test, and left the room.
Thanks to that experience, I'm a firm believer that sleep deprivation and exam stress can lead to hilarity. Just have a look at these prime examples of the toll taken by exam stress.