Illustration by Miceal Munroe-Allsup

Night final exams are necessary, but are not ideal

By Zoe Jennings

During the school year students usually get to choose when they do their work, depending on what is best for their focus and study habits. When finals come around, however, students get no choice in when to take our three hour long exams. This time restriction is potentially challenging for the students who have to take their finals at night, from 6 to 9 p.m.

Every student has a different strategy for managing stress and using their time productively, but it seems like common sense to expect students to be most productive during the day, when they are most awake. Granted, not all students are morning people.

Matthew Kline ’19, had a night final for his Early Shakespeare class last fall.

“On some level I was glad to have the day to study for it,” Kline said. “I’m not always bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the mornings.”

Nonetheless, 6 p.m. is a long time to wait to have a final. Dr. Bianca Breland, Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology, has experience with hosting night finals for her 8 a.m. classes. “The light’s all wrong and the space feels unfamiliar … There’s a certain fraction of your memory which is encapsulated in the space in which you learn things,” she said. This familiarity gets all messed up if the space at night feels different to students.

“I feel out of sorts and like I’m in the wrong space at the wrong time,” Breland said of hosting night finals. “And I’m not under any pressure.”

Audrey Gutierrez ’19 agrees that the late time period is detrimental to students.

“I think students are too drained to take (finals then)” Gutierrez said. “It was disorienting to take (my RHMS final) at that hour, and writing an essay at six at night is awful.”

As far as a solution to improving the night final experience, professors can give take-home exams or host the final in their last class period, but the three hour time slot is structured that way for a reason.

“I want a comprehensive, longer exam,” Breland said. “So I’m stuck with whatever period they give me.”

Associate Dean of College Dean John Krussel said that the college does try to make the final exam schedule logical.

“The evening exam periods are used for classes already held in the evening and for the time periods when the smallest number of classes are scheduled,” Krussel said.

Still, this creates a dramatic juxtaposition between an 8 a.m. class and a 6 p.m. final exam for students and professors, like in Breland’s case.

Night finals can be frustrating for both students and professors in these classes. They don’t have a say in when their final exam period is, but are required to participate in it in some way. Sometimes professors will use the night exam period for some student presentations, or to host a celebration of sorts for the end of the semester to lessen the stress. For those classes that require a long, comprehensive test, however, students and professors just have to deal with the situation handed to them.

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