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Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

Student Read, Student Written, Student Led Since 1878

The Knox Student

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Does our finals schedule set students up for success?: I think not

Picture+of+Eleanor+Lindenmayers+winter+term+final
Eleanor Lindenmayer
Picture of Eleanor Lindenmayer’s winter term final

Picture of eleeleelThough the term has just started, I find myself reflecting on finals. Specifically, the finals time slots.

I am an astronomy minor, and so generally have at least one in person exam style final per term. I am not opposed to exams themselves; they tend to be a necessity for many lecture style classes.

But I do take issue with the design of our finals system, specifically, the 7 p.m. finals slots. I go to bed relatively early for a college student, at about 10 p.m. I stop working at about 8:30 then, and I often find it physically impossible to keep my brain focused and working after this time.

This is why I have so much trouble with the 7 p.m. finals. At 7, I feel refreshed and ready, but by the time we get to 9, I am sitting in a room, staring at an integral that I could’ve solved easily at 10 a.m., with no clue what the next step is.

I’ve heard similar reports from some students about the 8:30 a.m. time slot. For me, that’s perfect focus time, but for others, it can be just as much of a struggle as I have at 10 p.m.

I find the time slots themselves can be a barrier to success in finals. I’ve received lower grades on tests that I knew I could’ve done better, if it was just a bit earlier in the day.

Knox has three testing slots, a morning, an afternoon, and an evening. The morning and afternoon slots have two hours in between them, the afternoon and evening, two and a half. These slots could easily be pushed closer together while still leaving an hour or so for meal breaks. The morning could then start at 9:30, and the evening could end at 8:30.

Most of the time, students don’t end up with back to back finals, so limiting the time in between should not be a huge detriment to anyone.

Another barrier to success is the length. Three hours is too many hours for the human brain to focus. Science has repeatedly reported that 90 minutes is about the max we can focus before needing a break.

Some tests simply do need three hours to do, and I myself have definitely taken breaks during exams. But because of the nature of exams, one cannot pull out a book or a phone to distract their mind for fifteen minutes.

Maybe exam periods need built in breaks, where students put their tests away and can wander, read, or scroll. We say we believe in the honor code, so maybe we trust students enough to do this.

Or maybe we take it even a step further. What if we eliminated exam periods, and students could pick up their test from their professor anytime during the day (within reason) and take it anywhere in that building for however long they need. They could return the test to the professor during break times.

Possibly, this is a little too radical. But if we believe in the honor code, then let’s believe in the honor code and give every student the chance to decide for themselves when their brain works best, and give them the best chance for success.

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About the Contributor
Eleanor Lindenmayer
Eleanor Lindenmayer, Editor-In-Chief
Eleanor Lindenmayer '25 (she/her) is a journalism major. She started working for TKS as a staff writer when she was in her first year. She has also worked as the discourse editor and is now the Editor-in-Chief. Eleanor has also been published at Tri States Public Radio, where she was an intern and a freelancer. Eleanor was born and raised in the pacific northwest and will argue that there is no better place on this earth. Awards Illinois College Press Association 2024
  • 1st Place In Depth Reporting
  • 1st Place News
  • 1st Place Feature
Illinois College Press Association 2023
  • 2nd Place Columns
  • Honorable Mention Columns
Knox College 2023 Ida M. Tarbell Memorial Prize For Investigative Reporting    

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