physical exams

Physical Exams: the Beginning of the End of the 13 Weeks’ Hurdle Dash?

James Arikpo

Two things come to mind when the reality of a virtual semester dawned on us. First? How the classes would be for us: the data to burn; the poorly developed University of Ibadan Learning Management System; distraction from home; the laxity to read, and so on. At this point, we have partly crossed the first hurdle: that of a poor internet connection which makes lecturers play guitar with their voices, thereby compounding a difficult hearing and understanding process; the sheer volume of materials we have had to read by ourselves;  and unending assignment drills like our lives depend on them.

The second hurdle, which has so far been overlooked even though it becomes grander at the passing of each week, is the end-of-semester exams. Of the lesser aspect lie the tests and assessment which have already begun. Some students have said that their tests were like a bowl of generously given ice cream, only to dip in and realise it was a camouflaged rock. Asides the tests, exams, one of the most important phases of any academic semester, are bound to prove hurdle-like. Although the Senate is yet to agree on what medium to use, the stakes are 80:20, physical to virtual. Yes, they are that high. While having physical exams will be more appealing to students than any other medium, it brings to mind three questions that we all should be concerned about:

Physical Exams and the Question of ‘Standard’

We all know that physical exams imply the fresh old standard of questioning, which throws average scores in the laps of many students, even after weeks of preparation and studying. This happens during physical semester-physical exams scenarios; cases where one would be more acquainted with the lecturers and have a relatively better learning environment and experience. Now envisage such exam conditions for a hitchful virtual semester. This is not in any way meant to put fear in you, but to call your attention to the need to put in more efforts in your academic game if you don’t want your GPA to dance a downward-slope Shoki in the end. While having this in mind, it is also possible for UI to lower the standard of question-setting a bit, considering the situation. However don’t bank on it, to avoid being choked in your windpipe.

On-Site Exams and the Question of Students’ Accommodation 

No doubt, Agbowo, Bodija, Orogun and some other nearby school areas have been a nest for some students who feel doing virtual from home would mean giving their CGPA the green light it has always wanted to drop from its height. But imagine every UIte moving to a residence somewhere around the school campus. Won’t there be more accommodation issues? The stress of sitting exams with  unsettled accommodation problems is enough to shoot some students down from academic seriousness. Some students will no doubt find a way round it, however, provided the school does nothing about the accommodation of students during the physical exams, a place like Agbowo would literally be filled to the brim and overflowing with students. Imagine the insecurity and unequaled stress it will cause.

Related post: An Open Letter to the Acting Vice-Chancellor: On this Virtual Learning

Let’s say the school management has us in mind and decides to give temporary accommodation to students (which I don’t see coming yet), won’t there be overcrowding on campus? This brings us to the last concern.

The Question of Physical Exams, Resurged Covid-19 Cases and Preventive Measures

If we reflect well, the most outstanding excuse for this whole virtual thing is the need to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Even though the pandemic at the time of resumption had considerably eased down, the school still found reasons to run a virtual semester. So, bringing students on campus for exams that would last a month or could as well be a threat, given that the stats for Covid-19 shows an  average of 7500 pending cases. So, whether off-campus or on campus, if the school decides to engage students physically for exams’ sake, what then is the essence of the virtual classes? Is the examination more important than the classes?

Sitting physical exams will pose many problems to the University of Ibadan students, and many of these problems have been enunciated above. The best bet for the average University of Ibadan student is to prepare twice; the one for the best, and the other for the worst. Nonetheless, given the fact that this is only a prospect to a matter which has not been decided upon, I might be wrong!

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