Short for examination. A test for college, university, or school students which is intended to be comprehensive on a given subject of study. Scores on an exam are supposed to reflect the student's knowledge of the subject matter. Whether or not they do this is a subject for debate.

Commonly the word "exam", as opposed to "test", is used for midterms and finals.

Exam is a 2009 independent British film. A psychological thriller, the movie focuses on the group dynamics of a randomly selected collection of characters as they quest for a job. The film, with almost no exceptions, takes place entirely in one room, where eight characters have been assembled for a job interview. The interview consists of one question, to which there is one answer. There's a problem though: No one knows what the question is. 

The movie is minimalism at its finest - there are eight main characters, one mostly empty set, one driving question. The film artfully uses these building blocks to continually hint at things outside of what the cameras can show, with science fiction elements and an alternate universe setting slowly being drawn in behind the events onscreen. Meanwhile, the continuous interactions of the characters delve into the darkest reaches of the human consciousness, with new conflicts arising and resolving themselves as the cast is slowly pruned down. 

The film is always engaging, and overall is well worth watching. The problems with it come from two different sources: the science fiction elements, and the blatant philosophizing. The film's attempts to build an alternate universe fall flat as the movie progresses, as the more and more fantastical elements of the plot require more and more time spent in exposition that never delivers a payload. Meanwhile, in the third act of the movie, characters trade various philosophical viewpoints that tend to be both ill-fitting to the plot and, occasionally, gibberish. 

Still, Exam is a powerful examination of the human mind, and is one of the most impressive uses of a minimalist set I have ever seen - no detail is introduced without later becoming a major plot point. The full film can be found on Netflix.


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