First-year history students have voiced complaints about the late timetabling of a three hour closed exam, which took place last Monday.
The exam, which was sat by 265 students, fell outside of the common assessment period as detailed under the New Modular Scheme.
The exam guide lists weeks five to seven as the period when closed exams are to be scheduled.
Last year, the assessment period included all ten weeks of the Summer Term. Jen Winter, Assistant Registrar (Student Progress), defended the timetabling: “We’ve got 49,487 sits to schedule in what used to be 10 weeks, and now we’ve moved it down into three.”
Graeme Osborn, YUSU Academic Officer, highlighted the administrative challenges posed by exams: “it is certainly a great challenge to schedule tens of thousands of exams into a three week period. Some departments at York are very heavily dependent on closed examinations. This creates a large administrative burden and can limit the chances of students who don’t perform well in closed examinations compared to other forms of assessment.”
Clare Third, a student in James College who sat the exam, does believe the timing of the exam affects preparation: “By week eight, we’d all just lost momentum. It was a little bit unfair that everyone was out having fun, while we were studying. The noise was a bit of an issue too.”
However, she mirrored the views of the majority of students in supporting the move to a three-week exam period: “As long as it’s manageable for the Exams Office, then having them all in three weeks works well. We’re all in it together and it’s more concentrated.”
Osborn sees the issue of noise as a shared responsibility: “YUSU, Colleges and the University need to work together to ensure that everyone respects that many students don’t finish until the end of the assessment period, without preventing those who have finished from enjoying themselves.”
“We didn’t schedule for bank holidays this year, we’re probably going to have to next year to make it all fit.” The University is within its rights to set exams on bank holidays.