Once again, the thousands of students at the University of Connecticut are coming face to face with their final obstacle before departing for a month of celebration, eggnog and sleeping. Final exams are next week, and the stress of students is palpable in the air along with a faint murmur of “C’s get degrees.” It is one of the nerve-wracking periods of the year for the young college student, but there are steps that the university could be taking to make it a little easier on everyone.
One area that is important to address is the “reading day” that UConn offers. It is essentially one day during the week that no students have finals on so they have extra time to study. Overall, it’s a beneficial concept, but the university only does it on Thursday during fall finals. Thursday is simply not the ideal day to do this. If we assume that a student will be taking 4-5 finals and they occur approximately once per day then most of their finals will fall before the day that is supposed to help them prepare for these exams. All too often students have multiple exams before this reading day, destroying the effectiveness of such an event.
The reading day should be moved earlier in the week, ideally to Wednesday. That way, students would have a guaranteed 2 days over the weekend to prepare for any tests on Monday and Tuesday, an off day, and then the rest of their finals. This would spread out finals and also maximize the time students have to prepare. Otherwise, there are abundant scenarios where students would have to take all 4 or 5 finals before they get to their reading day. They might get to go home sooner, but grades will surely suffer.
In addition to moving the reading day, the university should look at revamping how it handles bunched finals. When a student has 3 finals in a row or 4 over 2 days they can get exams rescheduled. However, if a student has 3 consecutive finals the only one that is allowed to be moved is the middle one. Students should be given more leeway in which finals they can have adjusted. The middle final might be a much easier exam than the others or of a format minimizing the benefit of an adjustment. If students are able to choose which finals they want to get moved they can act in a way to best help themselves.
Looking at these and other policies can help reduce the stress that students face this time of the year and help them perform better by giving them the time the need to adequately prepare.