Rutgers does not enforce fixed timeframe for midterms
Midterms have a tendency to take a toll on the student body, but the Rutgers community is striving to minimize that stress by adjusting the midterm exam schedule.
Since Rutgers operates on a semester system, most courses are comprised of two midterms or essays and a final exam. But this varies based on the practices of departments and professors.
“There is no fixed time period for exams during the semester. Each course instructor makes his or her own decision about the number and timing of exams. Some courses offer two exams that break the semester into thirds. Other courses offer three that break the semester into quarters. Some courses have a single midterm, and others have no exams or more frequent exams," said Lenore Neigeborn, associate dean of academic services for the School of Arts and Sciences.
She said each course instructor and coordinator designs their course, but there are no specific policies made by the University to govern the materials covered in exams.
Neigeborn said that students tell the administration that they do not like having exams that are offered late in the evenings or on the weekends and students do not like having multiple exams in the day or the same week.
During exam weeks, Neigeborn said the advising offices see an increase in students seeking assistance following big exams, or prior to finals.
“Before each semester, we have a group to decide the content to be covered in the 15 weeks," said Danni Wang, an assistant professor of the Department of Management and Global Business.
Wang said some students prefer there to be more exams so each individual test, especially the final, has less weight.
She said that there are others ways to test your knowledge beyond exams, such as projects.
“You have to approach the instructor if you feel like you are falling behind. Instructors always like to help you, in any regards. Our students are sometimes too shy, especially freshmen,” Wang said.
She advised students to start coming to office hours earlier and ask questions when they are not used in the context of a specific professor.
Wang said students earning their master's in business administration speak up more in class, are significantly more active and energetic and come to office hours more.
Matthew Maddex, a teaching instructor and debate coach of the Rutgers University Debate Union and Rutgers University Speech Society, said that traditionally between the sixth and eighth week of the semester, a majority of classes give some type of midterm.
“I try to, as all professors do, tie the information we’re testing you onto class assignments, in-class assignments, etc.,” Maddex said.
He said while he gives a smaller number of exams in a semester, some professors give two exams and multiple quizzes throughout the semester.
“I have 100 percent autonomy in terms of how I design the exam. The only thing we do in terms of a restriction, we try not to make it more than 15 percent of the course grade,” Maddex said.
Maddex does not have tests because he feels like he needs to have an exam. He said it is more about if the information that he is trying to get across is clear or applicable.
Students have typically done better on the second exam than on the first exam, Maddex said, because they have learned the style of the class and what to expect.
“Exams are all about making connections. When you’re reading, are you taking notes about questions you have about the material? When you’re reading, are you also making connections to the lecture notes? When you’re studying, can you see how one lecture ideally leads into the notes of another lecture?” he said.
He said that exams are like a jigsaw puzzle. When a student has 200 pieces in front of them, it’s about putting them together to paint the picture.
He said there is always a responsibility on the students and the professors to learn from one another. Maddex makes it his responsibility to make connections with his students.
Exams can be stressful when students believe that exams are the sole representation of who they are, he said.
“Years from now, sometimes even two years from now, the (graduate) school or the job doesn’t care about the actual letter grade. It’s about the skills and things you’ve developed,” Maddex said.
Samil Tabani is a Rutgers Business School first-year student. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.