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Should universities stop scheduling exams after Christmas?

By Niamh Burns

Tuesday 20 December 2016 Student Journalists

So, you’ve worked hard over the semester, you’ve gone to every single lecture and handed in a dozen essays and assignments. It's nearly the Christmas break and you’re more than ready to go home, relax, eat lots of food and celebrate the best time of year. However, you can’t - because of January exams. You can’t quite sit back and relax during your much-needed break. Instead, you must somehow devise a revision timetable in between all the festive activities, no matter how burnt out you are.

When I studied my undergraduate degree, I found it difficult revising over the Christmas break, the last thing I wanted to do was revise. So, with students up and down the country finding this time of year extremely stressful thanks to exams, should universities recognise students need a revision-free Christmas break and move all exams to the end of the year?

I spoke to Ruth Burns, a first-year Law student at Dundee University. She expressed her annoyance of having to study over her break, after an already hectic first semester.

“I would much prefer my university to schedule exams well before Christmas. By allowing students to go back to university after Christmas without exams looming, it would make you feel much more refreshed and ready take on the second semester.

“You don’t feel like you’re having a break if you have to spend it revising. It can feel overwhelming knowing you’ve got exams when you go back to university, you can’t properly unwind.”

Katie Marshall, a Business Management student at Northumbria in Newcastle, agrees with how stressing it can be.

“I struggle loads. I don't want to spend my time off revising or writing assignments, especially during Christmas when there are so many other things to do.

“It's really difficult around this time of year because family visit and there are so many get-togethers that you want to attend. Revision and deadlines are always at the back of my mind and I always feel guilty not doing them.”

However, Hannah Kelso-Mason, a trainee teacher at Stranmillis University College in Belfast, recognises how having exams in January can be beneficial.

“Like everyone, I would rather spend my Christmas relaxing and having fun. But university modules need to be assessed.

“Last year I had all my exams in May and that was pretty intense. I had lots of different exams for different modules and it was stressful trying to revise modules from earlier in the year.

“Stranmillis is moving towards having all exams at the end of the year and there are students who are very pleased about that.

“However as a teacher to be, I understand the need for assessment. Having exams in January breaks the work-load up and takes off some of the stress from the end of the year.”

Whether you have exams after Christmas or not, it is important to give yourself time to unwind and relax over the festive period. Create an effective revision timetable and make sure you allow yourself time to work and relax. Don’t forget to take well-earned breaks and do try to enjoy the festivities this Christmas, despite any looming exams!



Niamh Burns

Hi, I’m Niamh. I am a recent English Literature graduate from Ulster University, now studying an NCTJ Professional Journalism course at North West Regional College in Derry, Northern Ireland. I have always wanted to become a journalist and have spent the last few years interning at newspapers and magazines throughout Northern Ireland. I have a massive interest in currents affairs, politics and social justice. I’m really interested in student perspective, politics and activism, mainly in feminism and gender equality. I believe it is really important for young people and students to get involved in current affairs and politics, it is crucial for us to have a good platform in order to express ourselves.