Oops, they did it again

Exam fuck-ups

You think you are prepared and you’re confident you will nail this exam. And then it all goes wrong. Five students recount memorable exam fuck-ups: their own, as well as other people’s.
21 June om 10:16 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 21 June 2023
om 11:18 uur.
June 21 at 10:16 AM.
Last modified on June 21, 2023
at 11:18 AM.
Avatar photo

Door Finn Oltmann

21 June om 10:16 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 21 June 2023
om 11:18 uur.
Avatar photo

By Finn Oltmann

June 21 at 10:16 AM.
Last modified on June 21, 2023
at 11:18 AM.
Avatar photo

Finn Oltmann

Fuck-up 1

Rescheduled without notice

He had worked really hard for last year’s finance and risk management exam. ‘I studied for it every day’, says third-year student Vladimir. ‘And I had written the time of the exam in my planner two weeks before.’ 

The time he had noted down was 6 p.m. But when he checked his Brightspace that afternoon, wanting to procrastinate a little, he saw that the exam was actually at 3 p.m. ‘They had changed the time and it was already over. That hurt.’

I can’t have been the only one that was confused

Vladimir mostly blames himself for this mistake. ‘I felt pretty bad about it. I had put so much effort into studying and wasted so much time.’

Still, he’s upset that the uni didn’t send a notification. ‘I wish they would have just sent an email or something. I can’t have been the only one that was confused.’

He had to wait a full year before he could take the exam again. ‘This time I passed, but you best believe I checked that shit every day.’ 

Fuck-up 2

Not enough ECTS 

International business student Gabor was in the Aletta Jacobs hall right on time and firmly believed that he would easily pass the exam. After that, he would be done. ‘It was the only class I still needed to do before I could start on my thesis.’

He sat down and logged in. ‘But when the exam started, the questions didn’t pop up.’ 

That stressed him out, but he hoped it was just a technical error and raised his hand. ‘The supervisor told me that I didn’t have enough points. My previously submitted assignments were not of sufficient quality, he said. I was sent home.’

My previously submitted assignments were not of sufficient quality

It took Gabor completely by surprise. ‘This was the first time I heard anything about study points giving admission to the exam’, he says. However, he admits, he hadn’t read the syllabus very well. ‘My mistake.’

Gabor felt completely overwhelmed and very angry. ‘I had studied so much for it!’

He pleaded his case to his study advisor, who turned to the exam committee. Luckily for him, they decided to let him do the exam on the resit. ‘I am not sure of their exact reasoning, but I was very relieved. I’m finally done.’

Fuck-up 3

Cancelled halfway through

Student of computer science Ali was already halfway through his remote exam last year when everything came crashing down. 

‘It was a coding exam, we had to do tasks and then you would upload the result on a website. But when I did that, I suddenly received an error message.’ 

Ali thought the problem lay with him. ‘I thought it was specifically something that I had done wrong.’ He tried again and again to upload his code. ‘But after half an hour, the lecturer announced that someone had uploaded faulty code and that this had caused the website to crash.’

He waited another thirty minutes, continuing to work on the tasks. And then Ali saw that another announcement had been posted. ’It would take too long to fix, so an hour in, the lecturer decided to call off the whole exam.’

We were told that someone uploaded an infinite loop statement

The students were told they could take the resit a few weeks later. ‘But then that got cancelled, too. They weren’t able to fix the problem in time, so the midterm in its entirety got called off.’

Ali thinks it’s ironic that lecturers put the blame on the students. ‘We were told that someone uploaded an infinite loop statement’, he says. ‘That’s equivalent to a sentence that never ends. Their guess was that the entire website was trying to solve this person’s code.’ However, it turned out later that the website itself was faulty.

The lecturers decided to let previous assignments count for more. Some students, like Ali, were okay with that change. ‘I did fine and got a good grade at the end.’ Others weren’t as happy. ‘I imagine some people worked hard for that exam.’

Ali doesn’t blame the uni for the incident, though. ‘I don’t think anyone could have seen it coming’, he says. He would have appreciated it if his lecturers had put out a message about the cancellation, though. ‘I didn’t find out through official sources.’

Fuck-up 4

Constant interruptions

Some exams just aren’t meant to be, psychology student Sophie can confirm. ‘Right at the start, I found myself unable to log in, but I thought the problem was with me.’

Sophie raised her hand to ask for help, but after ten minutes she was still waiting. Then there was an announcement, explaining there had been a delay with all logins.  

Finally, the exam started, but soon, a second announcement threw her off her game again. This time, she was told a question was going to be left out. We had to label a diagram of the brain, but the picture was missing.’

I wish lecturers would take a bit more care

Meanwhile, there was another exam going on in the hall that had exactly the same problems. There too, several errors led to public announcements. ‘There were like four interruptions throughout the exam. It was distracting, because for a minute or two you need to listen.’

Things like these cause a lot of stress, she feels, and they could easily be avoided. ‘I wish lecturers would take a bit more care. If they had only looked over the exam once, they would have seen that the picture was missing.’

She does realise they are often under a lot of stress, too, she says. ‘They have a lot of deadlines and lectures to prepare and things to do daily.’ Still, she feels there is a bit of a double standard here. ‘You would not submit a paper without checking it over.’ 

Fuck-up 5

Rocky road to the exam

The very first exam that first-year international relations student Jàchym took turned out to be a shambles. 

It started even before the exam took place. ‘They used the course guide of the year before and told us it was an online exam, but it wasn’t.’ The misunderstanding was only cleared up about two weeks before it took place. 

Then the date kept moving. ‘First, they pushed it back, but then they changed that date again, pushing it forward and back again.’ Annoying, Jàchym feels, because it took away preparation time from the students. ‘The ultimate date was even earlier than the original one.’ 

It turned out they had double-booked

When Jàchym finally arrived at the exam – which was supposed to take place in the Academy building – he noticed his fellow students were standing around outside of the room, instead of going in. ‘It turned out they had double-booked.’ 

After a long wait,  the group was split in two and Jàchym and his friends were moved into another room. ‘It was very small and we were crammed in. You’re not allowed to look at your neighbour, but in such a small place you naturally move your head. It was definitely stressful.’ 

He himself was quick to adapt, Jàchym says, but others seemed quite affected by the circumstances. 

If only the course coordinators had looked through the schedule beforehand, he says. ‘I hope this doesn’t happen again, especially for those just entering university.’