With finals right around the corner and excitement for the holiday season spreading contagiously, discussion of exams seems timely. This semester’s final exams for the fall of 2019 are administered from Dec. 9-18, nine days. However, most colleges, including neighboring schools such as UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke, despite the occasional weekend exam, still have enviable final exams periods of one week or less.
Not only does this unusually long duration for our final exams take away from time that could be spent at home enjoying the holiday season, but it also results in students having excessively long stretches of days between exams.
Some argue that one benefit of a lengthier term for final exams is ample time to study. However, this is likely dangerous for students with a tendency to procrastinate. As per the findings of research professors Meng Zhu, Rajesh Bagchi and Stefan J. Hock, longer deadlines can have an adverse effect on goal pursuit, in this case, preparing and studying. If the span of final exams were condensed, it is less likely that students would procrastinate studying.
As a student, I know that many of us reach out to professors with requests to take final exams at earlier dates, particularly when the rest of exams take place towards the beginning of the exam period. This is actually so common that many professors caution students against even bothering to ask about taking exams at another time. Granting these requests and even just the influx of emails about finals surely creates chaos. This chaos could likely be somewhat avoided with a shorter duration for finals.
One reason NC State may have an abnormally long final exam period is because of limited classroom space and limited resources such as proctors for a school of our size. However, some of the country’s largest colleges, such as UCF and Texas A&M, manage to administer their exams in much shorter time frames despite larger student bodies than NC State. These schools commence their final examination periods on Dec. 5 and 6 this year, respectively, and wrap up on Dec. 11.
On a similar note, this inordinate design of the testing period may aim to avoid scheduling conflicting exams, but this is a possibility at all schools, ones larger and smaller than NC State. This risk doesn’t stop the majority of schools from administering exams in a week. Furthermore, overstressing students is avoided by options such as the ability to reschedule exams if three fall within the same 24 hours, an important rule which should remain.
Many classes administer final exams through DELTA Testing Services. This already creates some flexibility and allows for students to complete exams as they would like, early or at the last chance.
This period of time in which we are tested on everything we have learned for the past semester is often referred to as finals week. If you were to run a Google search on the term “finals week,” you likely wouldn’t see the term "weeks" pluralized. Yet at NC State, that is just the norm.
NC State should learn a lesson from the rest of the nation and administer exams within the typical one-week timeframe. Doing so would avert procrastination, eliminate the awkward breaks between exams and give students and faculty more of a break.