SFU is not giving students enough time to prepare for final exams

For students to succeed, we should get at least one week of “study break” to prepare for finals

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Illustrated by Momo Lin / The Peak

By: Kitty Cheung, Staff Writer

Last term, final exams started two days after the last day of classes. Two days. If this does not strike a fiery chord of outrage in your fragile student heart, I don’t know what will. With scheduling this tight, university administration is not giving students nearly enough time to prepare for finals. I propose that between the end of classes and the start of exams, students should have at least a one-week gap to spend studying.

Sure, we as responsible students should be preparing for our finals beforehand. But even a responsible student is bound by the number of hours in a day, week, and month. During my first year, for instance, I went to a slew of workshops offered by the Student Learning Commons (SLC) to learn how to better my study skills, time management, writing, and more. One useful tip that I received during a workshop was this: for every 10% that your final is worth, you should be studying for a week beforehand.

This means that if your final counts for 40% of your course grade, you should start preparing for that exam at least four weeks ahead of time.

It’s simple enough to build a theoretical schedule to work in those hours of study, of course. But with jobs, extracurriculars, families, and more, it is too easy to let tasks on our to-do lists slip by. After all, we already have to struggle to keep pace with current assignments, readings, projects, papers, and other schoolwork.

Of course, it could be argued that working on those assignments can count as “studying” for the final. Solving problems on calculus homework is surely good practice for what we’ll encounter on the calculus exam. But do you know what else helps us prepare for finals? Having ample time to dedicate study towards the final itself. Each exam has a particular format and each student has particular study strategies that work best for them, so even just completing homework assignments isn’t necessarily enough prep for some.

Some courses have a policy that if a student fails the final, they fail the course itself. I’ve seen this policy written into the syllabi of Statistics and Computing Science courses. The lack of mercy in this strict policy is enough to make any student nervous about the day of their final.

And when I have to write exams one after another on the same day, a girl has got to prioritize, even if she’s not officially facing examination hardship. This is a university defined condition consisting of more than two exams within 24 hours, or exams falling back-to-back at different campuses.

In an ideal world, our scheduled exams would be evenly spaced out, with ample time to prepare for each one in between. This past term, I had two finals back-to-back on the first day! This came after only two days’ worth of “break” for me to finish up and send in the last assignments of the semester. It was a real rush into the final exam grind.

How are students supposed to adequately demonstrate the knowledge they’ve gained over the term when the university’s calendar is trying to sabotage them? It’s as if we are being set up for failure. If the university gave us a weeks’ worth of preparation for our finals, fewer students would find themselves failing due to overwhelming exam schedules, and they’d be saved from spending another four months of our degree retaking a course.

I am adamant that students should have at least a week between the last day of classes and the start of finals. The time we could dedicate to studying during this period would do wonders. To the university administration, just watch as students’ GPAs rise, stress levels drop, and Burnaby Mountain itself erupts with a celestial sigh of relief.