Exams finally on campus again: ‘Pity’ or ‘a Breath of fresh air’?

26 Oct 2021

Because of the latest easing of the corona regulations, it is once again possible to have exams on campus. It appears that most faculties choose this option. Among students there are both supporters and opponents of in-person exams. ‘I didn’t have to study as hard for online exams.’

The long rows of tables and seats, placed down to the centimetre, the exact distance needed to prevent you from cheating off your neighbours’ work; the room temperature that’s just low enough to make you want to keep your coat on; and the groups of students going through all the exam material one last time.

Students have had to miss all this for a long time. But now that the corona regulations have been relaxed, exams can take place on campus again. The first exam period of the academic year has arrived, and the stress on campus is palpable.

Testing Valhalla

Nienke Wikkering (24), a student of pedagogical sciences and STIP employee of the Faculty of Social Sciences, indicates that all exams of her faculty will be taking place on campus again. ‘Fortunately, it’s now possible because of the recent easing of the corona regulations. The new exam hall on Comeniuslaan 6 offers the option of online exams on site.’ The former administrative building has been converted into a digital testing Valhalla.

It’s not just the Faculty of Social Sciences that has in-person exams; other faculties are also choosing the on-campus option. The same is true for the Faculty of Arts. ‘This was a conscious decision. Both students and teachers have indicated that they prefer in-person exams’, according to the faculty’s exam organisation. There are several exceptions, however: the so-called take-home exams. These give students several days to make the exams, without surveillance and in a place of their choosing.

Getting up later

The Nijmegen School of Management has also chosen to have all exams on site. An important motivator for this is that it takes a lot more work to allow students to make exams at home, ‘because grading online exams takes more time’, according to the Student Information Point in question.

Students are divided over having to come to campus for the exam period. Maurits Bosgoed (18), student of International Business Communication, prefers to make his exams online. ‘For online exams I could get out of bed later, I didn’t have to deal with train failures, and I didn’t have to study as hard.’

‘For online exams I didn’t have to study as hard.’

Bosgoed says that he has had to prepare much better for his exam this week than the online exams last year. ‘I could keep my notes handy and quickly go through the material. Now I have to study everything carefully, or I won’t get a passing grade.’

But he does understand why the exams will be held on campus again: ‘It means I can recall the material much better. That’s good for the rest of my study and beneficial to my own development.’

Technical difficulties

However, student Fleur Schotman (19) is glad that she can take her exams on campus again. ‘I didn’t like having to make exams at home. I was easily distracted by ambient sounds: a barking dog or a passing car were never this annoying before. Exams at the university are a breath of fresh air for me.’

‘Exams at the university are a breath of fresh air for me.’

The history student was dissatisfied with the digital exam monitoring system Cirrus, which her study programme employed. ‘I couldn’t go back to a previous question, and if I experienced technical difficulties it took fifteen minutes for someone to help me. I was already stressed because of my exams, and those problems just made it worse.’

But Schotman will still have to make an exam using Cirrus this week. ‘I understand that it is easier for the teachers to examine things this way, but I prefer to make my exams on paper.’

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