No Evening Exams
Evening finals would be stressful, not efficient
Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Last week, the Committee on Undergraduate Education met to discuss possibilities for restructuring academics at Harvard. One of the issues discussed was a proposal to extend the number of times classes might meet by decreasing the length of finals week. This would be done by holding evening exams in addition to the current morning and afternoon exams. We firmly believe that a change of this type to the final exam calendar would be unproductive, as well as destructive to students’ mental health and academic achievement.
The current final exam schedule includes a morning and afternoon exam each day for eight days of final exam period. Although some students do occasionally take two exams on the same day, it is generally rare for students to have two exams or more in a row. This new proposal, set forward by Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay M. Harris, would condense final exam period into six days; however, it would also add a third, “evening” exam slot.
Currently, final exams take place either from 9 A.M. to 12 P.M. or 2 P.M. to 5 P.M. We expect that an evening exam could take place from 7 P.M. to 10 P.M., in order to give students sitting both afternoon and evening exams the chance to eat dinner.
We are very concerned about the effect this exam schedule would have on students who already become considerably stressed during the current exam schedule. Although no one would be required to take three exams in one day, more students would face two exams in the same day, and some students could seemingly be required to take one exam that ended at 10 P.M. and another that started at 9 A.M., leaving them very little time to sleep, eat, and study in between exams.