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UBC Exam Scheduling

A few candidates running for the UBC AMS elections lobbied to have administration release the exam schedule earlier, specifically before the course add/drop deadline. They cited the need to better plan family affairs and student control of their schedule. While there’s no harm in releasing the schedule earlier, it shouldn’t be released before the course add/drop deadline.

Have you considered why UBC releases the schedule relatively late? In comparison, SFU students know their exam schedule when they register for courses so there must be some reason for this big difference right?

It’d be great if someone can confirm/refute this, but I think UBC releases the exam schedule relatively late because it uses an algorithm to determine the most favourable exam schedule for the greatest number of students (by favourable I mean no exam hardships, clashes etc…). Students should be signing up for courses that they want to take as opposed to taking courses that fit a convenient exam schedule. Some important dates to take note of…

  • UBC course add/drop deadline: January 16
  • UBC exam schedule released: February 3
  • UBC exam period: April 11 to April 25

Hypothetical situation 1: Let’s say students knew before registering, that Bioc 302 and Fren 112 exams were at the same time on the same day, but (for some random reason) 100 students wanted to take both courses. Since the schedule was released early, UBC is going to have to process 100 separate applications of exam conflict forms. However if UBC had known in advance that many students were going to take both courses, it could have scheduled the exams to avoid this conflict because student timetables are finalized after the add/drop deadline.

Hypothetical situation 2: Let’s say you had to make early travel/family/surgery arrangements so on Jan 10 you book plane tickets for April 20 since you know that’s the last day of your exams. However two days later, you realize that you had to take a prerequisite (say Psyc 100) and that exam is on April 24. Now you go shit, even though I waited until the exam schedule is released before booking travel plans, I didn’t realize my timetable would change.

Even if the schedule is released earlier, students can’t make travel plans until after Jan 16 when they know their timetable is 100% finalized. Although there is a greater control of travel plans if the exam schedule is released earlier, students will lose a lot of freedom (or perceive a loss of freedom) when registering for courses. There are very few things (if at all anything) that should compromise what a student wants to study at UBC. The final exam schedule is not one of them.

Categories: Education, UBC
  1. February 8, 2012 at 7:29 am

    I don’t know if its true or not, but I have had several computer science professors reference the algorithm used for scheduling exams, noting how complex it is.

    In response to HS1 (Hypothetical Situation 1), I expect that the exam schedule would still be optimized, but instead based on patterns in other years. Ergo, I wouldn’t expect to see a sudden large batch of conflicts. In the case there was, they’d probably simply do a mass “If you’re in these two courses, your X exam will now be held on the X instead”.

    I don’t get the relevance of HS2. Sure, something bad happens, but is that the fault of the exam dates being released earlier? No, its the fault of the student on behalf of their bad planning and foresight. Had they understood what courses they needed ahead of time, they wouldn’t have found themselves in that situation.

    Another HS I thought of was students purposely shooting for conflicting exams, just to mess with UBC and take advantage of the system (hoping to write them during the next term so they get even more time to study or what not). But I’m assuming UBC would be like “You’re an asshole. You knew the exam schedule when you signed up for courses. So yes, you have an exam conflict now, but all we’re going to do for you is make you have an exam every day for X days in a row.”

  2. February 8, 2012 at 7:31 am

    “There are very few things (if at all anything) that should compromise what a student wants to study at UBC. The final exam schedule is not one of them.”

    What about grades? Perception of teacher quality? Etc?

    Are you against class averages being public? Teacher evaluation scores being public?

    Because these, too (and unfortunately), influence which courses students take.

    • February 17, 2012 at 2:27 pm

      Class averages shouldn’t be public. That is of little use to me except for the satisfaction knowing that I scored higher than a certain percentage of students.

      Anyways now that UBC switched to broad-based admissions, I suspect http://www.pair.ubc.ca won’t be as useful for incoming students (ie it won’t be a reliable indicator to what grades students can expect to get) because anyone can get into UBC with poor high school averages.

      • February 17, 2012 at 3:08 pm

        I agree, although I think the reason goes beyond because it “is of little use to [you]”.

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