Comment & Analysis
Apr 30, 2019

College Must Learn From This Year’s Exam Chaos

Students encountered a myriad of problems – both administrative and TEP-related – this exam season.

Léigh as Gaeilge an t-Eagarfhocal (Read Editorial in Irish) »
By The Editorial Board

After the stressful and chaotic first-ever set of College-wide Christmas exams, Trinity students could have hoped for a smoother exam period this term.

Yet even those paying little attention would have known that this exam season has sent students into a frenzy, leaving them grappling with both a new exam system and a College seemingly unable to co-ordinate it.

It goes without saying that no exam period should put students under this amount of stress.


There were the expected problems that came with changes under the Trinity Education Project, like the shorter revision period and more crammed exam schedule. But then there were the more avoidable, basic administrative issues that caused unnecessary distress – namely the severe shortage of invigilators and the mandatory cloakroom fiasco that left students waiting up to 40 minutes to store their belongings.

Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU), which exists to improve the lives of students, has also been disappointing, failing to anticipate the problems facing students and waiting too long to step in and mitigate the situation.

No one is suggesting that TCDSU is to blame for Trinity’s administrative failure or for the implementation of the Trinity Education Project – those failings lie at College’s feet. But it is also indubitable that the union – which has prided itself, ironically, on focusing on Trinity-specific issues – could have done more to ease students’ stress by engaging more effectively with College. It wasn’t surprising to students that College failed to cohesively execute this summer exam period, but still TCDSU seemed startlingly unprepared.

All of these issues combined have made for an exceptionally trying exam time for students. And while any new system is bound to encounter some issues, this goes far beyond “minor hiccup” territory.

If College’s plans for assessment to be “spread more evenly over the course of an entire academic year, rather than all being piled into a single exam period” had been successful, students surely wouldn’t be experiencing the unusually high levels of stress they are reporting now.

College must take on board the widespread dissatisfaction among students, and find solutions, if the Trinity Education Project is to do what it set out to – provide a high-quality, modern, holistic education for students.