A few weeks ago, I saw a meme that was poking fun at how many students feel as if they are just regurgitating information on exams without actually fully understanding the material. It was a joke that resonated with me deeply, especially in the midst of nights spent studying for what seemed like neverending midterms. One of my favorite topics is chemistry; however, when it comes to the exams, I feel as if I am just cramming a few nights before only to regurgitate information on a piece of paper rather than actually learning the material.
As a student coming from a high school that offered few Advanced Placement classes, I have had to often “over-enroll” in as many classes as I could fit in my schedule in an effort to compensate for my lack of units. This meant having 18 units this past quarter, which led to me vacillating between which assignment I could spend the least amount of time on, and in a sense, not give my best, in order to be most time-efficient.
While this might be a complication of the quarter system, I cannot help but wonder how different this would be if we had a few days off before final exams to study more, and/or to fully engage with the material.
Since my time at UC San Diego, I have had to sacrifice many weekends to study, only adding to the UC “socially dead” stereotype. In fact, I will even find myself during the week planning which assignments I will be spending my weekend completing. While I do enjoy the pace of the quarter system—if I hate a class I can get it done quickly—I cannot help but sometimes envy my friends on the semester system and the amount of time they have to better understand their classes.
As UCSD students, we deserve better than just cramming, especially when it comes to final exams. Before my final exams last quarter, my calculus and chemistry professors were teaching new information only a Friday before the final. This nearly felt antithetical to what learning should be, and I felt as if I only had the weekend to “memorize” this material before regurgitating it on Monday.
Many educational institutions such as UC Santa Barbara, UC Berkeley, and Yale give students an entire week to study for final exams, and while this has its criticisms, it also has its benefits. Since we are on the quarter system, an entire week off might not be practical (though Santa Barbara is on the quarter system and still has a dead week); however, giving students more days off instead of expecting them to use the weekend to study would be a much more pragmatic option, especially since many of us work during the weekends or have other commitments. Instead, perhaps Thursday or Friday of Week 9 should be free of instruction before final exams. This would not only give students more time to solidify concepts, but it would also further cultivate a learning environment by allowing us more time to study.
Conversely, perhaps having the final exam period commence in the middle of Week 11 is also an option. This would allow students to have built-in study days without sacrificing days of instruction, and it would allow for final exams to begin halfway through the week. A consequence of this system, however, would be a higher chance of final exam times conflicting with one another, especially if they were clustered to only certain days of the week.
Nevertheless, as quarter system students, we are tired of feeling like new information is being “shoved down our throats.” As students, we should not feel like our learning has to be sacrificed due to the limited amount of time we are alloted and should not have to make the choice between actually learning or which class is the easiest to get an A in. While the quarter system is flawed in this sense, this fault could be mended by implementing changes, such as a few more days to study, in order to foster an environment where learning is the top priority for students.
Grace Garber is a Staff Writer for The Triton.
The positions stated here do not necessarily represent the opinions of The Triton, any of its members, or any of its affiliates. We welcome responses to opinion pieces. If you’d like to submit a response, or comment on a different issue affecting the UC community, please submit here.