Optional exam week, the smart move forward

Jakob Lopez and Mia Cabello

Exam week will take a new direction beginning this spring. A new UTSA directive allows professors to choose whether or not to administer final exams during the pre-determined finals week. The refreshing change will shorten many students’ semesters from 16 weeks to 15 weeks as well as provide students with a more structured study period.

Although intended to allow students more time to study, dead days have become days dedicated to cramming material taught during the months leading to finals week. Allowing finals to be completed the week prior to their dedicated week restricts the amount of time available for procrastination, thus creating a healthier amount of time to devote to wrapping up each class.

Some classes require a final presentation or paper in lieu of a multiple choice exam, while other professors administer their exams online. A presentation will take some time, but turning in a paper, especially if it’s through Blackboard, and taking a test online doesn’t really require students to physically show up on the predetermined exam date.

In addition to the academic benefits, the positive outcomes also carry over to life outside of school. If students have to move, prepare for graduation or start a job earlier, getting finals out of the way can mean having an extra week to do so. After getting used to a semester so jam-packed with school, work and extra-curricular activities, a few days to regroup in the midst of the busiest time of the year is a welcomed time to take a breath.

The new directive is a smart move for students and professors, so long as the week before finals doesn’t become the new finals week. Professors who keep to their assigned final exam day are just as helpful as the professors who choose to give theirs early. It’s about balancing, and the focus needs to remain on alleviating stress on professors crunched for time and students running low on steam.