Exam season approaching: what do students have to say about it?

Photo by: Nguyen Dang

With Brock’s fall exam season of the year fast approaching, as well as the exam schedule having recently been released, students are preparing in full swing.

Classes are to end on Tuesday, Dec. 6 and exams are scheduled to begin on Thursday, Dec. 8, with the period ending on Wednesday, Dec. 21. Following the exam period, students will have a break from classes until the beginning of the second semester on Jan. 9, 2023.

Although exams are extremely common amongst nearly any higher level of education, the period is known to be a highly stressful time for most students. 

Exams, which are typically recognized as the final step in a university-level course, incorporate many, if not all, of a course’s contents, leaving it up to students to decipher what needs to be read through, studied or memorized in preparation for the no longer than three-hour time period that students are given to complete the test.

The stress, which comes from such lengthy preparation, is something that can clearly be seen in Brock’s newest group of students that have been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Due to COVID-19, I haven’t taken an exam since the beginning of high school,” said Cloe Spina, a first-year humanities major. “Because of this, the thought of the upcoming exam period has left me feeling very stressed.”

Much like Spina, many current university students are ill-equipped to be jumping back into the exam period, having limited to possibly no experience writing the tests to begin with. Instead, many students only remain familiar with assignments or essays testing their knowledge of the subject at hand. Flipping back to a standard test will consequently be a big leap for those individuals.

“I think exams just add on stress for no reason. All it really is is just an additional test that only adds more pressure on students that are already working so hard,” said Spina.

Despite what year you are in or how many exams you have taken in the past, the stress they bring on is not something that easily goes away. This is exactly what can be said in the case of fourth-year concurrent education student Gabrielle Platnar, who is no stranger to the exam season.

“When you are constantly stressing to memorize all the information from a semester in just a few days, it can be very worrisome that your future is on the line with how well you do on these exams,” said Platnar.

As an upper-year student in a program that relies on students maintaining a specific average to continue their studies, Platnar, among many other students, must face the reality that one shortfall of memorization could cost her whole future career.

“Exams are just a representation of how well a student is able to regurgitate information the teacher has told them to memorize throughout the year,” said Platnar. “It doesn’t really measure what a student actually understands, but only how well they can memorize something.”

Platnar and Spina are only two of the many students expressing hesitation toward university exams. Many students are unsure of the exam period’s role as an important component in university education.

Whether exams should remain a significant aspect in post-secondary education or should be scrapped entirely is a concept worth considering. However, Penny Van Bergen and Rod Lane propose a third option in their article; instead of removing the existence of exams entirely, the usage of exams should instead be relooked and should be balanced out with other educational assessments, such as assignments, research proposals and presentations.

Van Bergen and Lane note that while the concept of exams as the only response to a student’s understanding may be overused, it is worth noting that exams can, at times, still be the appropriate response to assessing a student’s knowledge.

Whether or not exams are being properly used amongst Brock’s various courses remains open for discussion.

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