FOREWARNED FOR THE FINALS
As the end of the spring term draws near, students often raise the question as to the work required for the final examination. For some, it is true, the question resolves itself into now little preparation they can get by with. But there are others who want to know how they can most profitably spend their time in the examination period. For such it often is a question of whether they will be tested upon the work of the first half year and if so to what extent.
It is desirable to hold students responsible for the first half-year's work, but only in general outline or in so far as is absolutely essential to a background for the second half. So much is not only requisite for an intelligent comprehension of the course but is also valuable in preparation for the divisionals. Yet undergraduates often waste their time absorbing a host of details appertaining to work covered before the mid-year period which are of little value in passing a final examination or in understanding the subject matter as a whole. There can be no particular advantage in this bewildering the mind with useless material. If the student is made aware of the kind of examination to be expected, he can better prepare himself for more than a mere "gentleman's mark".
It may be said that the library contains specimen papers for the benefit of just such men. But are these papers always useful? There is no reason why an instructor should run his course in a certain way because it has always been done so. Or, if a new professor arrived to teach a new course, his students could not expect to learn his methods by the study of previous examinations. Perhaps all this explains why most instructors do not volunteer the information that old examination papers are on view in Widener.
In the second place, if the specimens are put in the library to settle a natural curiosity as to the kind of question for which to prepare, it might be well to arrange and keep them in less chaotic order. At present only a patient research worker could extract any results from the mass.
Perhaps instructors are right in believing that the more work a student does in the feverish examination days the better for him. But we think that if the student is helped by a little information as to what is expected of him he will profit just as much and will expend as much energy.