Staff Editorial: Looking deeper into exams

Rensselaer is known for its challenging academics and the notable success of its graduates in the work force. However, exams get to be a bit nerve-racking when they are frequent or on the same day. Examinations are supposed to be tests of one’s knowledge in a particular subject, but this goal is not always achieved due to the fact that exams are usually one or two hours long, while all the material studied and learned accounts for hours and hours.

The frequency of exams tends to burn out students, making us physically and mentally exhausted. By the time we recover from one exam, the next one is already being slammed onto us. The frequency of this mental taxation is not beneficial to our understanding of the course content. In fact, it could even be detrimental to the long-term conceptual grasp of it. As engineers, wouldn’t it be better to fully comprehend the material?

Multiple exams in the same day produce extreme stress and can cause the student to do poorly not only on one of the exams, but both. Perhaps a good way that we could eliminate this problem would be cooperation between professors. Professors whose students have a lot of crossover could get together and make sure there isn’t an overload of tests. For example, the professors from Calculus I and Physics I, two classes commonly taken together, could make sure their tests are not in the same week.

We spend hours reviewing notes, doing back exams, and reworking homework problems only to be thrown into a one or two hour exam. These quick exams fly by, and by the time a student can grasp the concept of the problem, 10 minutes have already passed. Exams simply do not measure a student’s mastery of the material most of the time.

Are we saying we wish we didn’t need to take any exams in the first place? No, but we wish they wouldn’t be back to back on the same day, they wouldn’t be every two weeks, and they wouldn’t be given in only one or two hours.