Solving the Stress of Tests
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 02:10
There is a palpable point where school-related stress ceases to be a necessary part of the learning process and becomes an impediment to it. The university has implemented simple but effective remedies to assist overworked students during final exams, and as midterm season approaches such safeguards appear equally appropriate.
Final exam schedulers provide make-up dates for students who have multiple exams on the same day, and professors often try to further accommodate students who are overloaded with several tests within two days. Unfortunately, such considerations are frequently disregarded for midterm exam schedules. One might assume that final exams are both more demanding and consequential than midterms, but neither of these assumptions is necessarily true. Considering the accumulation of extracurricular expectations, jobs and a full plate of other classwork during this period, preparing for a midterm at the same time is no small burden.
Midterm exam dates often fall within a small window, and students will occasionally encounter multiple midterms on the same day. While students understand that coordinating midterm exam times for different courses is not feasible, they say that it would be useful to offer alternative dates for exams. Professors could spread these dates out over the course of a week so that the material covered on a test still remains timely and the progression of the class is not held back.
There are a couple of probable objections to this proposal. First, one might anticipate cheating by students who take the test later than others and find ways to acquire questions — and possibly answers — in advance. But midterms generally cover enough content to offer at least two comparable but distinguishable exams, and we trust that professors have the capability to develop multiple tests that offer the same level of difficulty. Second, it might be considered an unfair requirement for professors to develop and administer an extra test, but we consider it a tolerable responsibility considering the far greater struggle students go through during the midterm period.
Anxiety is a part of undergraduate life, but with students constantly encouraged to pursue excellence, it is only fair that the university allow them time to achieve it. When it comes to midterms, the phrase “multiple choice” should apply only to test questions, not to the issue of which exam a student should study for sufficiently.