For Trinity students, exam season is the most stressful time of the year. Thousands descend on the libraries in the weeks leading up to the exams, cramming as much information from their courses as they can.
Now, with the introduction of Christmas exams as part of the Trinity Education Project, students face this prospect twice a year – in a college that is still struggling to run them cohesively.
Last year, in the first-ever set of Christmas exams in RDS Simmonscourt, students reported a litany of issues – from lengthy waits for a cloakroom to a fiasco that forced hundreds to wait outside the exam hall for over an hour and a half after the wrong papers were distributed.
The cloakroom caused particular uproar, coming to symbolise a chaotic exam period that left many feeling their performance had been compromised by factors outside their control.
So heading into this year, the least students would have expected was a smoothly run set of Christmas exams. The College had the time to reflect on last December’s failures, and to put in place procedures to avoid a repeat of the same problems.
But it doesn’t seem to have transpired that way. Last week, first-year engineering students were left aghast when a formula sheet they needed to complete a question wasn’t supplied to them. The sheet was eventually sourced and handed out to students – 10 minutes before the end, and after many had left the hall unable to answer the question.
Meanwhile, the cloakroom, while not as disorderly as last year’s, did cause issues for some students – an issue that Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) acknowledged wasn’t good enough.
That this year’s exam period passed without controversies as bad as last year’s is not an endorsement of the way it was run – there were still too many problems to come close to calling it a success.
The union seems to have done its bit to mitigate the problems students face. But exams are a bread and butter issue for any college, and the issues faced by this year’s students mean it’s reasonable to wonder if Trinity learned any lessons from last year’s fiasco.