It’s crunch time here in Mannheim. The semester is over and final exams are this week. The libraries are packed and the usual mix of anxiety, frustration, and procrastination is the same here as it is at Drexel. Unfortunately, exams here will prove to be much more difficult than back home.
To start off I only have two exams here as opposed to the usual four or five at Drexel. This sounds rather positive, but it’s not about how many exams but the amount of content in each one that matters. Both of my exams are made up of a full twelve week semester’s worth of information. For example, in my MIS class I have to look over 50 or 60 pages of powerpoints for every week. There’s even more content for my OPM class that includes not only lecture powerpoints but problems from the exercise and tutorial classes. A big drawback to both classes is that there is no textbook assigned to the course. This means that your notes have to be good because there isn’t a written reference to fall back on. This is a challenge for me because when I study for exams I usually read the book chapters.
Another point that heightens the stress is the fact that exams are worth a hundred percent of the grade. I really don’t like that a semester course is graded based on one 90 minute exam. I feel that it’s not a fair level of assessment. Instead some emphasis should be put on participation and attendance, so grades can accurately reflect the level of involvement of the student. This all or nothing exam culture means that students are often forced to memorize information and prepare to regurgitate it for the exam. I’ve been told that the time given for an exam is too short. This means that either you continuously write answers or you don’t finish the exam. There really isn’t any time to stop and contemplate about the problem, write what you know and move on is the procedure.
So far I’ve been on track with my study schedule but I’m not sure what level of preparation the professors are expecting. I know that my exams are all short answer questions, but I’m not sure if that means I need to write down definitions word for word. Multiple choice is unheard of at Mannheim, I really wish that wasn’t the case. I believe I will need to be more prepared for exams here because it’s about recollection and not recognition.
Exams are stressful, they should be. I just wish that they didn’t count for my whole grade.