Professors hold early exams

Most students look at May 10, the last day of exams, with disdain. They look forward to the minute they can drop their No. 2 pencils, head out of class and jump on the next train or airplane home.

But some professors helped end their students’ semesters slightly before the final examination period by giving tests during the last week of classes.

“I do it because I’m a nice guy,” said physics professor Earl Skelton, who offers an “early bird” final along with the regularly scheduled test. “The first time I taught here I heard heart-wrenching stories about students who could not make it to the final exam, so I made a totally voluntary option for students to take the exam early.”

While Skelton’s procedure is within University policy, GW mandates that a cumulative final exam must be given on its specified date unless the professor requests to change the date with the consent of the entire class.

“So long as one student wants to take the exam at the scheduled time, it must be given then,” said Craig Linebaugh, associate vice president for Academic Planning and Special Projects.

Linebaugh said he does not encourage professors to give non-cumulative exams on the last day of classes because the last day is “intended for instruction,” and the University designates a study period between the last day and finals.

But some students, including senior Andrea Kelly, said they prefer to take exams early.

“You just get it over and done,” Kelly said. “It’s all about time management. You just have to deal with it.”

While most professors do not hold more than one final exam date, some said they try to work with students if they have scheduling conflicts.

“I do try to accommodate students who may become ill, have a religious holiday or have some family occasion they must attend by offering them the opportunity to take the exam early,” said Michael Moses, associate dean for Graduate Studies at the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and associate professor of mathematics.

“If I am told enough time in advance then it usually works out. I usually write five or six exams anyway, so for me it is not that big of a hassle,” he added.

Robert Donaldson, chair of the department of biological sciences, gave the last of a series of exams in his introductory biology course Tuesday.

“I think that students like not having a final,” he said. “Numerous students have asked me if they have to show up for the final exam period scheduled by the University and when I tell them ‘no’ they say that in some cases they will be able to go home early.”

Linebaugh said individuals can take an exam on a different day than the scheduled time, which is up to the discretion of the professor. Professors may also assign take-home exams or papers before or during the final exam period.

Students also have the option to take a make-up test if they have three or more exams on the same day.

“The student must check with the professor and then it is at the student’s discretion which exam date they will change,” Linebaugh said.

Linebaugh said when he hears of professors violating University final exam policies, he brings it to the attention of the department and the dean of the school.

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