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Keep Calm for the Exams

Exams-photoAs exam season approaches, there are a range of supports around campus for students who may be feeling the pressure at this time of the year. One of the first places a student may turn to is UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU), who have been preparing to help students for the exams.

Dannii Curtis, UCDSU Undergraduate Education Officer, explained how they would be hosting a wide range of activities for students in the lead up to exams. Last week, they ran clinics in the various faculties across the campus, where they provided students with “coffee vouchers, fruit, study timetables and tips, folders and notebooks.” She said that they plan on continuing this in the coming weeks.

Also scheduled for the next few weeks are crash course study sessions, along with mindfulness and stress management talks. Moreover, she said that she would be “posting about supports and tips and tricks for exams in the coming week for students online.”

At this time of year, the James Joyce Library often becomes a hub of activity, with students going there for last minute study. Curtis confirmed that UCDSU would have pop-up stands outside it, where herself, Hazel Beattie, UCDSU Graduate Education Office, and Clare O’Connor, UCDSU Welfare Officer, would be on hand to offer students support.

Opening hours in the libraries have been extended for the exam period. The full timetables are available on UCD Library website. From the 9th November to the 18th December, the James Joyce Library will be open until midnight, from Monday through Friday. It will close at 9pm on each Saturday and Sunday.

There will be a slight change to the late night study area in Astra Hall, operated by UCDSU. Previously, a 24 hour study space operated in the run up to exams. The statistics on its use last year have shown that attendance at it dropped off between 3-4am. Based on this, a decision has been taken to operate the space until 3am each morning, with exceptions.

The late night study area will begin on study week and will continue until the exams end. Its first night of operation will be on Monday, 30th November, going into the Tuesday morning itself. 24 hour access will be available on peak dates throughout the exams, such as Sunday, 6th December, the day before the exams begin. The full timetable for 24 hour access will be released soon. Curtis has said that she will “endeavour to be there for students studying late as much as time allows,” and that they will be there to offer “fruit, tea and coffee and food on most nights to keep students going through the long nights.”

Each year, a shuttle bus service runs between UCD and the exam centre in the RDS. Curtis said that UCDSU was awaiting confirmation from the university itself as to whether or not it would be running the service. She said that UCDSU would arrange one should UCD fail to do so. Details of it will be announced soon.

Students who miss out on exams can apply for extenuating circumstances, to take into account the reason why they did not complete their coursework. UCD has defined extenuating circumstances in its policy as: “The occurrence of unforeseen events which have prevented a student from attending a substantial number of classes, affected their ability to study or complete assessments (both continuous assessment and/or examinations), resulted in assessment deadlines being missed or adversely affected performance in any assessments undertaken.”

Curtis said that the Union is hoping to release a student friendly guide on applying to extenuating circumstances. She wants to make it as “straight forward as possible for students in need,” as the “process of application can provide another stress for students on top of the unforeseen circumstances.”

Applications for extenuating circumstances must be submitted online through SISWEB. Individual Schools have drawn up their own policies on the matter. A student who wishes to make an application for extenuating circumstances should consult the information online, and contact their relevant School for information.

Regarding exam tips for students, Curtis offered the following advice:

“My best advice is to make sure to look after yourself, take breaks when you need to. Don’t be afraid to reach out to lecturers and tutors if you are struggling with a particular topic as they are there to help. Most importantly, please reach out to us if you need help with anything to do with time management, coping with exam stress or just need a sounding wall to talk to, we’re here for you.”

For first years, who are yet to experience UCD exams and the RDS, she had this to say:

“For first years, my best advice is not to be daunted by the location or size of the exam hall and to just focus on you, give yourself plenty of time to get there at your own pace. Bring a watch to the exam hall with you to keep time as you may not always be seated close enough to a clock, as well as that make sure and familiarise yourself with all of your exam structures and what you’re expected to do within the allotted time. Most of all like all years, please reach out to us here in the SU if you have any issues.”

Dannii Curtis can be contacted on eduactaion@ucdsu.ie. For postgraduate students, they can contact Hazel Beattie on graduate@ucdsu.ie. For welfare related issues, Clare O’Connor is available at welfare@ucdsu.ie.

  • By Cian Carton, News Editor

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