As the semester comes to an end, students begin the frenzied preparation for final exams.
Lehigh’s final exams span an nine-day period that will begin May 10 and end May 18, with a two-day review consult study period before the start of exams. Exams are held all days of the week, including weekends, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Other schools in the Lehigh Valley do not hold exams on Sundays and instead try to contain them within a five-day period from Monday to Friday, with some of the schools starting exams only after noon.
Moravian College used to hold Sunday exams and will likely be returning to that schedule again in the upcoming years because of an increase in enrollment. Carol Traupman-Carr, who works with the university registrar at Moravian, said if the college does return to Sunday exams, it will avoid early morning exams so students can meet church obligations because of their Christian heritage.
Emil Gnasso, the university registrar at Lehigh, said comparing Lehigh’s final schedule to other Lehigh Valley schools is not an accurate comparison.
He said Lehigh is a larger school with more course offerings than the other schools. Because of the many courses offered at Lehigh, it is possible for a student to have to take an exam in another discipline that conflicts with another final. For example, a student could be taking courses in the College of Business and Economics as well as taking classes in the College of Arts and Sciences. Because of this, the registrar works to ensure that no students have overlapping finals.
In scheduling exams, Lehigh must follow a certain policy that states rules for scheduling the exams. No student is allowed to take more than two final exams in one day, the exams must be in a three-hour window period, exams must fall within the nine-day examination period and there must be two days of review consult study before exams begin.
A review consult study is a time period students have between when classes end and final exams begin, to study, review and consult with their professors.
Because of the rule that states final exams must be held within a nine-day period, Lehigh schedules exams over the weekend.
“If we were to do away with Saturday and Sunday, it would lengthen the exam period to two weeks,” Gnasso said.
Gnasso said Lehigh is given nine days to hold final exams, but it tries to schedule the finals for eight days to leave the ninth day for more specialized finals such as presentations or projects. Lehigh classes end on a Friday, with two review consult study days on Saturday and Monday, making the exam period 12 days.
To schedule exams, the Office of the Registrar uses a program called Schedule Expert. First, instructors will indicate to the registrar if they need a designated final exam time slot. From there, the program will take the classes each student has registered for and create a schedule that is conflict free with no overlapping finals, so every student will have no more than two finals in one day.
Finals are never allowed to be given the week before the exam period begins. Gnasso said professors are made aware of this rule and the Registrar has made recent efforts to make students aware of this rule as well.
Some professors dislike the idea of holding finals on weekends.
Christopher Burke, a psychology professor, has been working at Lehigh for eight years. Burke said his personal preference would be to not have finals on the weekends or in the evenings.
“It’s inconsiderate to ask students and faculty to come in on a Saturday or Sunday to have an exam and to be staying quite late into the evening,” Burke said. “I understand scheduling is a logistical nightmare and I would not want to do it myself, but it would be great to try and avoid them.”
Burke also said scheduling exams early in the morning or late in the evening can affect a student’s performance.
While Gnasso hopes that students plan studying habits according to their exams, Burke said there is a culture around students staying up late and sometimes skipping sleep to study. This could mean early morning exams are rather challenging.
Burke also said some students might also not be in the right state of mind in the evening either, prohibiting best performance on exams. He said students performances on exams that are scheduled at certain times depend on their personal preference.