Every school year, once the frenzy of moving in calms and the dust from adjusting to new class schedules settles, we finally get a clear view of the tsunami of midterms coming. While exams at many other institutions are all condensed into one week, at Harvey Mudd, we have them spread out into one “season” in the middle of each semester. This is partly because of the half-semester classes that are part of core, your first 3 semesters at Harvey Mudd, and also because some classes here have two midterms.
Not only is studying easier to manage when you don’t have 4 exams in one week, but it’s also less stressful to have a mix of in-class and take-home exams. With our school’s honor code, we have a relationship built on trust and integrity with professors and we get the privilege of having some exams, like special relativity, introduction chemistry, and core math classes (calculus, multivariable calculus, etc.), usually given in a closed-book format where we can take the exam when and wherever we want as long as we turn it in by the deadline. This applies even in major classes beyond the core. A lot of exams are given outside of class time! A running joke at Mudd is that “we prefer to take our exams in the comfort of our rooms, or in a classroom, …or in an elevator at 3 in the morning”. No really, people do take their exams in the middle of the night. Our midterms don’t span hours on end; if it’s not a take-home exam, it will usually fit into the time allotted for a typical lecture for that class. There are also interesting exam formats like that of E79: Engineering Systems; there’s an in-class written portion and then a practicum exam held in lab time. Also some classes don’t even have exams and are project based instead like E4: Introduction to Engineering Design and Manufacturing. While some people are sitting in a classroom taking a test, students in this class are learning how to lathe, mill, and design products with users and clients in mind.
Even during midterm season, there’s never a shortage of events at Mudd. Last weekend, the Alumni Board of Governors and the Board of Trustees of Harvey Mudd came to campus to meet and celebrate things like the dedications of 3 new chemistry labs.
There were also opportunities to eat and chat with members of the two boards about the school. Although midterm season might induce fear in some, it doesn’t mean that Mudders stop moving and lock themselves behind closed doors to study! Campus is still thriving and you can find students working and tutoring K-12 students in STEM over the phone at Homework Hotline, or machining their prototypes for E4’s preliminary design project, and of course doing problem sets and studying together!
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