Resits… just an excuse?

I cannot believe my time in Maastricht is coming to an end so soon. Because I’m ineligible for period 6, my flight is already booked to return to Canada on June the 8th – how sad!

I’ve learned a lot during my time abroad. I’ve really benefitted from the cultural diversity, the international travel, and the opportunity to study at a different institution. Studying at Maastricht University has certainly added value to my degree from The University of Western Ontario.

However, there’s something very, very different between both universities. In fact, you could even make this comparison between schools in North America versus Europe – resits.

A resit is the opportunity to re-take an exam if you fail. Sometimes this resit takes the same shape and form as the original exam (for example, if exam #1 was 100 multiple choice, so will be exam #2), and sometimes the evaluation comes from something completely different (an exam followed by an essay, for instance).

Here at Maastricht University, we have the opportunity to write one resit, however some of my friends from France have told me that their school offers up to three resits for the same exam. In Canada and the United States, you’ve got one chance: pass or fail – if you fail, you’re forced to redo the course.

I definitely see the benefits to the resit system. Sometimes you truly understand the material, but you’re just having a bad day and thus, a failing grade may result. Redoing the exam is much more manageable compared to redoing the entire course.

But as I’ve gone through the exam system three times since starting my fall semester here at the school of business and economics, I’ve noticed a fatal flaw with this system: some students depend on their resit, meaning they’re not applying their skills and talents to the original exam.

I’ve witnessed many of my classmates, exchange students or not, go into the exam period with very nonchalant attitudes. There’s always the resit! often seems to be the mentality. Ultimately, depending on your resit would most likely only harm your final grade, since any student is bound to recall more relevant information when it’s fresh, as opposed to when it’s been recycled two months later. Of course there are lots of students who are dedicated to acing their exams on the first try, but whether this group forms the majority or minority is debatable.

On the contrary, with no resit to depend on, students at my home university are typically more committed to the exam period. Students eat, sleep, and breathe finals. But this system doesn’t always capture the student’s full potential either: some students might crack under this type of pressure, which not only hurts the GPA, but is also not good for health.

So what are your thoughts? Is the resit system taken advantage of? Do students in Europe depend on it for more than it’s worth?