Power in numbers: tackling the exam timetable

Well, the last few days have been a bit of a roller coaster really. And it’s not just the mountain of assessment that I’m talking about. What I’m referring to are exams. A bit pre-emptive, I know, but bear with me. When I took my first glimpse at my draft exam timetable earlier this week, I took it in my stride. It’s true, my exam schedule was a bit unfortunate, but it was something I figured I would just work around. That’s when I saw everyone else’s reaction.

I’m not sure how many of you are or at least know law students, but we can be quite a vocal bunch. Of course, nothing is taken more seriously than our exams. After the investment of countless hours throughout the semester trawling through endless readings; tenderly preparing our notes and eloquently bickering with one another about the correct application of the law, exam time is our time to shine. So when it transpired that we had two law exams on consecutive days, all hell broke loose.

Now, I don’t like to be “that” arrogant law student, but the prospect of having two law exams on consecutive days is somewhat intimidating. Especially since I am a double degree student, as usually I will have one law exam each week of exam period. Having never faced this before, I knew I would have to be organised to have my preparation in order. In fact, I think this can be generalised, the fact of having two exams at all on consecutive days is daunting, not to mention two on the same day!

Note: I’m now really wishing I paid more attention to signing the petition about consecutive exams I saw floating around last year – bless you, student activists.

But all in all, I was accepting of my fate, and felt that this was just the way of the QUT universe. After all, it wasn’t so bad. Sure, I had three exams in the same week, but it could be worse. They weren’t first thing in the morning. Some people have four consecutive law exams, so my situation was nothing to shirk at.

Let me explain how the situation actually unfolded. Law is offered as a double degree, and it seems that as many as half of the people enrolled in law are actually part of a double degree, myself included. So about half of us second year law students found ourselves faced with these two consecutive exams. There they were, one on November 6 at 1.30pm, and another at November 7 at 1.30pm. Well, we couldn’t have that. Instantaneously, our Facebook groups were consumed in the uproar. Faux-polite emails of protest were sent to course coordinators, lecturers and basically anyone who would listen. Meanwhile, streams of abuse riddled Facebook, rallying us together in our masses to oppose this travesty.

Allow me to note to readers that exam timetabling is not controlled on a faculty level. We were reminded of this as anyone and everyone were bombarded by our fiery onslaught. So please, when you’re emailing your outcries of complaint, keep in mind that faculties can only make representations on students’ behalf regarding timetabling.

As it happens, on this occasion we were victorious against the powers that be.

It is this conceptualisation, however, that I think was our major flaw. Here we were, a student body united in our cause. However, it did not seem to occur to us that we were not against anyone. The university timetablers are not out to make our lives as miserable as possible, a fact that is easily forgotten amidst the stress of impending exams. Yes, our timetable may mean that we have to live on minimum sleep for days on end to get to exams on time whilst also juggling preparing for them. But that this is not the university’s personal slight against us bears remembering when we’re up past midnight on the eve of our last exam cursing their negligence.

I feel compelled at this point to extend a vote of thanks to those activist law students who protested on behalf of all of us double-law students. Thanks to you, I now have four evenly spaced exams over two weeks awaiting me at the end of semester. It is little things like this that detract from the stress of entering exam period and allow the focus to rest upon preparing well. THANK-YOU. It just goes to show that when we communicate our problems, if something can be done it usually will be.

This time justice won out and all is as well as it could be in the world of examinations. For now. Stay posted for any further developments and meltdowns as exams near.

Does anyone have a horror exam timetable to share?

14 responses

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  1. avatar
    Simone

    My boyfriend has 2 exams on the day of his 21st birthday party! Terrible timing!

    • avatar
      Courtney

      I know a few people in the same boat! How unfortunate for him 🙁 It certainly makes me appreciative that my birthday always falls on the holidays 😀 Good luck to him though!

  2. avatar
    Erin

    I know me and a bunch of people in my course have 4 science exams in one week. 🙁 So sad.

    • avatar
      Courtney

      Ouch! Having so many exams all at once really is stressful- I particularly hate having more than one in the one day. But four in one week will really put the pressure on! Good luck, hopefully it’s at least the first week so you get early holidays 🙂

      • avatar
        Sonny

        but I prefer to reduce my holidays and instead have more time for exams.

        • avatar
          Courtney

          Of course that’s ideal (I certainly prefer that too- a few more days of pain at least means a better chance at preparation!), but perhaps if our timetable isn’t exactly what we’d hoped for, a reframe is in order 😉

  3. avatar
    Jade

    Don’t know what you guys are complaining about.. only 2 consecutive days sounds pretty good!
    We had four consecutive days in both weeks last semester.

    • avatar
      Courtney

      Four consecutive days is painful 🙁 I know I’ve certainly had worse than two consecutive days last semester, although not four! But hey, I’m not one to oppose the complaining if it means a more ideal timetable in the end. Hopefully you have a better exam timetable this semester!

  4. avatar
    Kathryn

    A few years ago, my classmates had 3 exams (all worth between 50-60% each of the respective subjects) over a period of 42 hours.

    • avatar
      Courtney

      Yes, you have to love those 60% exams! I bet not much sleeping happened within those 42 hours with so much at stake! At least it’s all over quickly then, although not necessarily painlessly 😉

  5. avatar
    Lazyboy

    I have an exam on the same room at the same day and one ends at 1:30 other one starts at 1:30 🙁
    Please help me 🙁

    • avatar
      Courtney

      I believe that there are policies in place to prevent unfair exam timetabling- contacting AskQUT is usually the first port of call and then they can explain the situation and make arrangements. My change of timetable was arranged by everyone’s contact with AskQUT- so hopefully they can work something out! If anything can be done, they will know about it and it will be done 🙂 Good luck!

  6. avatar
    Tazmyn

    Seriously???
    You’re having a cry because you had two exams on consecutive days???
    Welcome to the real world law students. Your future bosses aren’t going to care when all of your deadlines are the same time of the same day. They have this thing called time-management. I suggest you look into it.

    • avatar
      Courtney

      Risking the wrath of those who petitioned on my behalf, it does seem a little “soft” to whine about two exams on consecutive days. Having seen the Facebook outcry first, I thought it was going to be much worse than it was! But it just goes to show that when everyone unites their voice, we can achieve results! Of course, my situation wasn’t the most dire in this instance. Others had 3 exams within the 24 hour period, which does warrant real consideration of rescheduling on the basis of scheduling policy if enough people are affected. But hey, I’m not one to complain if it means a more advantageous result for me 😉

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