Exam lotto: How Mount Royal University schedules final exams
by Nori Sinclair
Eight weeks before the end of classes, students eagerly check online for Mount Royal’s exam schedule, hoping they will luck out with an extended holiday vacation or the afternoon exam times.
Those stuck with exams at 8 a.m. on a Saturday or three exams on the last day of the exam period often express frustration with the system, or begin to construct elaborate conspiracy theories about how the university hates them.
David Wood, registrar, enrolment services, has heard all kinds of complaints about the scheduling process, from both students and faculty alike. He reassures students that the exams are scheduled at random.
“The software is not out to get you,” Wood says.
Creating the exam schedule takes about a month and is organized by the university’s scheduling office, which also takes care of each semester’s course timetable. The office starts by making a list of all classes running in a given semester, which it then sends off to the departments.
Each department indicates which classes have final exams, as well as any special arrangements needed, such as sections that need to be scheduled at the same time. This information is compiled by the scheduling office and fed into special software, which processes the data simultaneously or “shuffles things around to make it work,” as Wood puts it.
Because the schedule is primarily computer-generated, it is checked over by the scheduling office as well as reviewed by the departments. It is such a complicated process that Wood says they don’t “entertain any specific requests,” because it could cause a domino effect of problems for all students.
However, students with conflicting exam times or more than two exams scheduled in a day should talk to the registrar’s office. The office works with faculty to make sure that exams are deferred in that case, as outlined by school policy.
On the other hand, the registrar can’t get you out of exams that conflict with your Hawaiian vacation, so Wood cautions: “Don’t plan anything until the last day of final exams.”