‘Plan carefully, manage your time’: What to know as final exams approach

With finals approaching, students should utilize resources on campus to ensure success and lessen stress. Mia Crawford | Photographer

By Rory Dulock | Staff Writer

From requesting to change a final exam time to going to the Success Center, there are a variety of options for students to prepare for finals week.

Dr. Wesley Null, vice provost of undergraduate education and academic affairs, oversees the Success Center, the Academy for Teaching and Learning and University Accreditation. He said he deals with improving retention and graduation rates, new programs, new majors, new minors and revisions to existing programs.

Null said a student can go to the department chair for the exam that they want to reschedule, but the policy actually points them to the dean’s office, where they can get a form to request a change of a final exam time.

“The best [option] would be for the student to … find out the office hours for each of their instructors and perhaps start with the one that they think would be best to shift to a different day,” Null said. “Go visit that professor’s office hours, or obviously email is a good way to go, or if there’s time after class, go up to that professor. But I think just take them one at a time. Maybe put them in order of the ones that, if it were up to you, you could reschedule.”

Null said to take a copy of the policy from the provost website in case a professor is unaware of the policy. He said the main reason why it’s important that Baylor allows students the opportunity to reschedule exams is to allow them to space out studying.

“It just seems to me three in one day, assuming it takes you an hour to an hour and a half on average to complete a final exam, that’s a lot of exam time in one day,” Null said.

In addition, Null said Baylor wants exams to be an accurate reflection of students’ knowledge of the course.

“To do that, it seems to me like students should have sufficient time to study and should be able to,” Null said. “We want students to perform their best.”

West Greenwich, R.I., freshman Brynn Sauerbrey said it’s important that Baylor allows students to switch a final exam time because it brings adaptability in a stressful time of the semester.

“I think having the opportunity … to adapt your schedule in that way can be really important — to minimize the stress surrounding that and also maximize the amount of time you can allot to one class,” Saubrey said. “If you have the ability to spend more time focusing on a class or on two separate classes rather than just focusing all of your attention and choosing one over the other, that’s probably the better choice. I think Baylor allowing you to change your [final exam time] allows you to split your focus more adequately.”

The final exam schedule will most likely not undergo any major changes in the coming years, Null said.

“I’m afraid we’re always going to have some conflicts,” Null said. “The reality is there are just so many days in the year, and we have to get commencement in. We have to have so many days in the fall and spring semesters based on expectations with accreditation and hours spent in the classroom, instructional hours, so on.”

Null said the advice he has for students as finals week approaches is to make sure they are not wasting time. He said it is typical for underclassmen to get caught up in extracurriculars, which often leads to cramming.

“Plan carefully and manage your time well,” Null said.I think those are two key pieces. I think planning ahead to make sure that you bracket out enough time to study for each of your classes is really important. Waiting until the last minute [or] waiting until midnight to prepare for an exam is not the way to go. Spending a couple hours between 6 and 8 p.m. three nights for a class is much better than cramming 10 hours the last night.”

Null said he advises students to utilize the opportunities on campus that can help them prepare for exams.

“Take advantage of the offerings we have in the Success Center and the tutoring and the other kinds of support,” Null said. “Lots of people over there want to help students succeed. When in doubt, go visit the Success Center and ask for their support, and you’ll find a welcoming group of people who want to help students succeed.”