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Ponnada: Finals frenzy

BY SRI PONNADA | DECEMBER 12, 2012 6:30 AM

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As the end of the semester crept up, thousands of students found themselves stressing about finals being well on their way. I, personally, have been running around, pulling my hair out. A final exam a day, Monday through Thursday sounds pretty horrible. But as they always say, it could've been worse — and it actually was.

Fortunately for students, the university now has a newly revised final-exam policy, and it definitely deserves two thumbs up.

Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education Beth Ingram said prior to the spring semester in 2012, students had as many as three exams in one day, sometimes in a row, with only two 15-minute breaks in between. The breaks were not enough to go to the bathroom, because they were often lasted just long enough to get to their next test. This test-taking system had been in place for 20 years.

Schedules were made by hand, on paper for each student, and they usually mimicked schedules from the previous semester, which meant once you had a bad block of final exams, you were very likely to be stuck with that schedule for your time at the university.

Can you imagine sitting through six hours of exams with two 15-minute breaks in between? There wouldn't be enough time to breathe.

The revised policy allows students with three or more finals in one day to file for a conflict, which will allow them to reduce the number of finals that day, as The Daily Iowan has reported. Students are also given at least half an hour between finals and will not have any finals after 5p.m. on Friday.
Now this sounds like a real deal.

"Students said having three exams in one day [sometimes three in a row] made it hard to do their best and was stressful," Ingram said.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota found that stress is one of the biggest factors affecting academic performance. The study also found that the ability to manage stress is equally important. But when you have chemistry, calculus, and comparative literature finals all on the same day, how can you avoid being stressed?

As we all know, exams — however many there are — are always stressful.

To help ease the final-exam frenzy, many venues on or near campus, such as the Old Capitol Town Center and the Main Library, are staying open later. Several will be open 24 hours.

It is certainly comforting to see the university take students' experiences into consideration and try to be more accommodating to students' needs.


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