While my fellow bloggers are all posting about being done with finals and starting their summers, I still have a long way to go! That is because the UK academic system is much different than what we are accustomed to in the states. At Vanderbilt (and like most US colleges), you have 15 weeks of classes (one week off for Spring break), one day for to get your life together (reading day) and then a week or so of finals. At the University of Edinburgh, and most other Universities in the UK, you have 10 weeks of classes (with a break after week 5), then three weeks for spring break, and a month for finals. Yes, a month for finals. After I finished classes on the 4th of April, I took a long trip to Italy, The Netherlands, Germany, and Scotland (read about it here). But all fun most come to an end as they say, and since break I have become a hermit in the library.
Finals officially started here this past monday, but fortunatly for me my finals are later this month. I have one on the 14th, the 17th, and the 22nd. I have to admit, I do prefer the UK finals system to America’s, because it gives you so much time to really think and reflect about the material you have learned in your courses. At Vanderbilt I find myself in a perpetual state of panic as finals begin to creep around, as there is simply not enough time to study all the material needed for assessment. Like most students, I often cram the day before an exam, vomit it all out on the test, and forget all of the material by the next day (#oops). Because I have had so much time to study here, I have been able to pace myself and really come to understand the material.
The reason why finals are stretched out so long, I believe, is because they are weighted MUCH more than finals in the US. By spreading out finals, it gives students much more time to study for these really important assessments. Two of the three finals I have to take are 100% of my grade. I repeat, 100% of my grade!!! A whole semesters worth of material is boiled down to a two hour assessment. This is the part of the UK academic system that I really don’t prefer, simply because I have no idea how I am doing in two of my three classes. But that is why having a month to study has been a blessing, because I can study at a steady pace and truly stop and think about the stuff I am learned. I feel prepared for my exams already, and I still have two more weeks left before my first one begins, so hopefully everything will go over smoothly.
I must admit, I miss all of the exciment and activities that happen during final week at Vanderbilt. Here, there is no one handing out free coffee in the library, there are no free messages in the cafeteria, no free food, games, stress busters, etc. But, I guess you can’t have it all!
Until next time,