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The grades are out to get us

With a set of midterms complete and more exams to come in the following weeks, it seems as though classes schedule the due dates for their research papers, exams and presentations to all fall on or around the same time.

For instance, the typical full-time student takes approximately four classes per semester. If a student looks at their syllabus for each class, it is quite common to see all the major dates clustered around the same time. As a result, these back-to-back and overlapping deadlines cause increased stress and anxiety.

This not only pressures the student, but it also stresses professors. A typical course requires one to two papers or projects, two to three exams and five to six quizzes spread through the semester. Each professor has to read, grade and give feedback for all of these assignments for each member of the class. Without a doubt, that is a lot of grading.

One may wonder, who makes all of these tests and quizzes a requirement for each class? While some professors design the syllabus themselves, it is typically the university that sets the requirements for students to achieve a passing grade for each course in order to meet accreditation requirements.

Therefore, the grading demands that are placed upon the professor, which are passed on to students, are set to meet these accreditation standards.

It is more than likely  that the professors are not intentionally overlapping due dates with those of other courses based on malice intentions, or “just to mess with students.” The professors do have some flexibility when it comes to how they will teach the class, but that flexibility is limited by the institution.

However, there are things that students can do to alleviate stress and anxiety. Cramming for tests or exams the night before, or the morning of does not provide enough time to retain enough information to successfully pass that test or exam. It is better to break down the information into smaller and more manageable chunks over a longer period of time.

Instead of cramming, students should spend the night before an exam reviewing material and getting a good night’s sleep. Studies show that prolonged stress and/or test anxiety can cause, “heavy drinking, weight issues, dropping out, depression, sleep issues, behavioral or emotional problems, compromised immune system, memory problems and somatic issues.”

Students should begin prepping for tests about a week before the exam date. The day before, it may help to practice some meditation and practice positive thinking. It also helps to eat a well-balanced meal that primes your brain for success.

When the time of the exam comes, the student should skim through all the questions and answer the ones that seem easiest first. If a question is difficult, skip it and come back to it later. It is possible to find an answer to one question in another one.

It is natural that students will become overwhelmed by the numerous exams and projects for the semester – the key to success is actively avoiding procrastination.