Your mentor tip at exam time: know the rules!
It’s that time of year again, when falling leaves are replaced by falling snow, strings of orange lights change to green and red, and pumpkins give way to wreaths of holly.
That’s right, it’s exam time.
Before we can all kick back and enjoy the winter, we’ve got to take care of our finals. And, with our brains full from days of studying, it can be easy to forget some of the basic exam-writing rules. They are all available on the final exam regulations website, but to help you out, I’ve highlighted some key points below.
Location, location, location!
It doesn’t matter how many hours you study, you won’t do very well on your exam if you don’t know where it is.
Double, triple, and quadruple check the date, time and location of your final exam the day before. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t relied on an old screenshot of my exam schedule only to realize a few minutes before my exam that the room had changed.
Refer to your exam schedule on My Student Centre for the most up-to-date info. Arrive at the exam room at least 30 minutes early so that if you are in the wrong place, you have time to get to the right one.
In a worst-case scenario, if you arrive late, you are allowed to enter an exam within the first third of the examination time. That means that for a three-hour exam, you will be granted entry to the exam room before the first hour has passed.
There’s a similar rule for leaving an exam — you have to wait until after the first third of the examination time has elapsed.
You will be carded
You must have your Concordia student ID on you in order to write your exam. If you forget your student ID, you can use a government-issued ID that bears both a photo and signature, such as your health insurance card or your driver’s license.
You will present your ID to the exam invigilator when you take your seat number, and then leave your ID in the top-left corner of your desk for the invigilator to collect after you have found your seat. It will be returned to you when you submit your exam.
What not to do before your exams
While studying for your exams is quite important, there are some things you should refrain from doing:
- Don’t pull all-nighters. Look I’m not innocent, I did pull all-nighters before, but if you think that’s how you’re going to pass your exams, you’ve got the wrong idea! You need sleep to ensure your brain regenerates and cleans all the toxins you’ve accumulated throughout the day. Without proper sleep, you won’t be able to focus correctly and that will seriously affect your performance in the test.
- Do not procrastinate. The longer you wait for studying, the more you’ll have to study in a single day. There’s a lot of material covered in each and every one of your exams, assuming that you have the mental skill to cram everything in fewer days is a self-defeating tactic.
- Do not make heavy plans the week before your tests. Humans are social animals, we love to gather around in groups and interact over a bunch of things here and there. But if you really want to do well on your final exams, I suggest organizing these parties AFTER your exams. All that time you spend having fun before your tests is valuable time that could be used to optimize your performance in your exams. So be mindful!
What not to do during your exams
There are a number of things that you simply cannot do during an exam:
- Don’t keep your cellphone in your pocket. Instead, put it in your locker or in your bag and make sure it is off. A phone ringing in your bag or a turned-off phone in your pocket can result in failure of your exam. The same goes for any electronic devices (smart watches, iPods, etc.) and even your old-school tech, like pagers and PDAs. The Examination Office even specifies that spy glasses are not allowed. I would love to hear the story behind that one!
- Don’t tear or mutilate the examination booklet. No matter how annoying it is to have to flip to the back every two minutes to see the formula sheet, you cannot rip it out of the booklet. I once had a professor tell us we could and, a few minutes later, he came back and had to staple all of our exams back together. The Examination Office does not mess around when it comes to following the Academic Code of Conduct.
- Don’t bring any unauthorized material to your exam. Bring extra pencils and pens, and the supplies you need like an eraser or a ruler. But you should not bring anything else with you to your exam. If you are allowed to bring any supplementary material like a formula sheet or reference book, your professor will make this clear ahead of time and the invigilator will check all material. For students in the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science or the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, you must have an approved calculator with a sticker on it. A list of approved calculators can be found here for the Gina Cody School and here for Math and Statistics. You can get the Gina Cody School sticker at the Service Desk at H964 and the Math and Statistics sticker at LB901.
- Don’t hang your sweater on your chair or keep your bag with you. Once you enter the exam room, pay attention to the temperature and decide right away whether or not you need to keep your sweater on. If you don’t need it, leave it with your bag at the front of the room. You are allowed to keep a water bottle with you but you must leave it on the floor under your chair.
Worst case scenario
Everyone dreads this situation: unexpected events like a serious injury, illness or death of a family member that forces you to miss your test. Fear not, for there are some things that you can still do!
In such cases, you may be eligible to request a deferral. The Examination Office will process your request, and if approved you will receive a DEF grade for the course. You will be able to write the exam the next time the course is offered. All the info you need about deferrals can be found on the Missed exams and DEF notations website.
If you have experienced a long-term illness that has hindered your ability to complete course material or writing the final exam, you can request a MED notation. Similar to the DEF notation, the MED notation appears as the grade for the course for which you put in the request. Unlike a deferral, you are not required to complete another exam at a later date, unless the course is one of your core courses. A MED notation can stay on your transcript and will not affect your GPA. Complete details are available in the MED notations section of the Exams Office website.
Now you have all the info you need to make it through your exams. Before you know it, you’ll have absolutely nothing to worry about — except buying all those holiday presents you’ve been putting off!
Find out more about final exams by visiting Concordia’s Exams page.