By Astrid Franciszka
On the 1st of April, Cambridge students received an email outlining the alternative assessments we would be taking instead of exams. Students were impressed at the University’s arrangements: first and second years would not receive class marks and would instead be awarded pass or fail and finalists (like me) were told that there had been an exam safety net implemented, meaning that as long as we passed our subject assessments, we would not graduate with a grade lower than what we received in our last examination season, but we could still go up a grade or two. We were then told to wait for individual emails from our faculties detailing the new modes of assessments.
A few hours later these came in. Some students, like vets, were told that they would sit their exams in September, causing outrage as they would not have any summer break away from revision. Second year lawyers were told that they would have online exams (which seems to assume all students have access to a suitable working space and fast broadband) which they would still receive class marks for. So even though they would get pass/fail, employers would be able to request grades from individual papers, seemingly bypassing the University’s provisions.
In English, we finalists are lucky. Dissertations are handed in as normal, with an extra week given for those who chose to submit a second dissertation. Examination papers have been replaced by dossiers of essays that will be marked and valued like exam essays (so it doesn’t matter if students have no access to critical texts at home). I feel lucky that our faculty have been so understanding and know that other universities and subjects have not benefitted from the same generosity.
Astrid is a third year English student at Jesus College, Cambridge. She has a YouTube channel with over 10k subscribers (Astrid Franciszka) and regularly posts about Cambridge on her Instagram account (@astridfranciszka) .