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Final Exam Scheduling

ALFALF Registered User Posts: 1,166 Senior Member
edited July 2011 in Smith College
We are getting ready to buy our daughter's plane ticket to school, and are experiencing problems with trying to figure out when we should schedule her return at the end of Fall Semester. Is there a way to determine when final exams occur for the classes in which she is enrolled? I realize that we could simply book her return after the last day of finals, but that might leave her sitting around for 2-3 days after she is done. Any help would be appreciated.
Post edited by ALF on

Replies to: Final Exam Scheduling

  • phanaticphanatic Registered User Posts: 849 Member
    Well, since the majority of Smith exams are self-scheduled within some time constraints or projects/papers, odds are that when she finishes her exams within the posted exam period on the website (Smith College: Registrar) will be entirely up to her. The worst case scenario under this plan is that she finds out that she has four self-scheduled exams. If she has good "exam stamina" and thinks she can finish them up in the first day and a quarter of the exam period by taking exams at 9, 2, and 7 on December 19, and then again at 9 on December 20, then book an afternoon or evening ticket home for that day, or perhaps for December 21. I would, however, caution against this and assume that she will need at least the first two full days of the exam period to complete her exams. Almost everyone needs a break in between tests.

    If it turns out that she has a scheduled final, which seem to occur, as I recall, generally in the Korean and art history departments and of course in the four other colleges, then she'll have to work that out later.

    Is your home airport served by Southwest? They were generally more flexible with allowing me to change my ticket to a different date than most airlines. That might be a good option if her plans change due to exams.
  • CarolynBCarolynB Registered User Posts: 1,068 Senior Member
    Hi, ALF, how many classes is your daughter taking at Smith this semester? Since Hampshire doesn't have final exams (right?) and assuming she'll be able to self-schedule, I'd recommend allowing a day or two at the beginning of the Smith exam period so she can have a bit of flexibility.
    (P.S. By the way, I hear congratulations are in order, so congratulations to all!)
  • SmithieandProudSmithieandProud Registered User Posts: 3,038 Senior Member
    Quick primer on how Smith does its self scheduled exams:
    1) Exams are held over a four day period in the last week of the semester, you should be able to see when this is by looking at the schedule for next year. The three-four days before exams are "reading period", including usually the Monday before exams, with exams starting on Tuesday.

    2) Starting on Tuesday, exams are held at three time slots during the day: a morning, an afternoon, and a late evening slot (no evening slot on Friday). Students are told where to go to pick up the exam, based on what class they're in. They decide what time and day they want to take the exam, and show up to the correct building, on their chosen day and time. A monitor gives them a copy of their exam. They are then allowed 2.5 hours (two hours for the test, half an hour to walk it back to the desk) to complete the exam, which they can do in any room of the exam building, except computer labs, stairwells, or bathrooms. They can't take the exam out of the building, and it's on honor code regarding notes, calculators etc. If the test isn't back in 2.5 hours, it's an automatic honor code violation. Big no no.

    3) So, theoretically, she could plan to take all her exams the first couple of days and then go home. Some students do this. Some like to space the exams out evenly over the course of the week. Some like to study all exam week and take tests on the last few days (this was usually my strategy, as in addition to exams, I had final papers that I was still working on up until the last minute). Reading period is just really not enough time to get all of your studying done and write your papers. I realize that in an ideal situation, she'd be writing her final papers before the last week of classes, but this is college, so realistically, she's going to be doing them during reading period/exam week while trying to simultaneously study and take her exams.

    It's hard to know what she'll need to/want to do at this point. You may want to wait and buy her tickets in a month or two. I know it's tempting to get them now, but buying too far in advance doesn't always net you the best deal on prices either. If you absolutely must buy now, buy them for the day after exams end. That way no matter what, she'll have the whole week to choose when to take her exams at her leisure, with no flight deadline to pressure her. She'll also have more time to work on final papers so she won't be bringing work home. This is what I always did and I never felt like I was twiddling my thumbs towards the end. Your work infinitely expands to fill the time that is allotted for it, and many times I was grateful not to have to worry about packing until I had finished all of my exams.
  • ALFALF Registered User Posts: 1,166 Senior Member
    Thanks everyone, for informing me about the self-scheduling exam system - who knew? As CarolynB pointed out, my daughter is attending Hampshire College, but she is taking two Smith courses this Fall, besides a MoHo dance class and a Hampshire class. Those last two don't have final exams, for obvious reasons. She knows several friends and relatives (including her brother) who took Smith classes, so I'm surprised that she did not know about the self-scheduling exams.

    Carolyn, thanks for the congratulations (she met our daughter who just got engaged)!

    S&P, thanks for all the details, that was really helpful!

    I'm really liking the whole self-scheduling concept! At my college, final exams are rigidly scheduled onto a grid. Today, I could tell you the date and time of the final exam for every Fall class. I also must say that if we tried to institute a self-scheduling exam system, I fear that we would face a rampant cheating outbreak, as earlier-testing students gave test questions to later-testing students. The fact that the self-testing system works is a testament to the ethics of Smith students.

    Of course, Hampshire has no final exams - they just kill their students with massive papers instead!
  • phanaticphanatic Registered User Posts: 849 Member
    ALF, I thought your name looked familiar, and then I realized you have a Hampshire daughter instead of an incoming Smithie. Sorry for bombarding you with some unnecessary Smith info. :)
  • ALFALF Registered User Posts: 1,166 Senior Member
    No problem - it's my fault for not being sufficiently explicit at the outset. Little of your info is unnecessary, actually I find it quite fascinating. It really is amazing that colleges with such disparate academic and social cultures are able to make the consortium work.
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