A Call for Reflection: Exams During COVID-19

As the Impact blog covered earlier in the semester, BC’s decision to go pass/fail led to a flurry of responses and emotions. Some were disappointed by the inability to boost their GPAs, while others were relieved to know that this meant they could dedicate more time to navigating the COVID crisis. But with exams just around the corner, I found myself reflecting on the meaning of exams and grades in law school.

Sure, at first after the pass/fail decision I thought to myself, “What exactly does passing mean and how much work do I really need to put in to get that passing grade?” Even with these looming thoughts, I still found myself regularly attending (Zoom) classes, keeping up with my readings, and getting a start on my outlines for finals. And I do not think I am alone here.

The reality is, although exams and grades are important, that is not why any of us came to law school. We came to learn about the law, pass the bar, and eventually practice in an area that interests us. We were admitted to BC Law because we are motivated students who have worked hard for many, many years to get to this point.

To me, going into pass/fail finals season is a test of who I am as a student, professional, and person. Let’s face it, each law school class is really expensive. So why shouldn’t I get my money’s worth? Plus, let’s not forget about the bar. But beyond that, I know I would be disappointed in myself by not doing the best I could do. I also can’t imagine how frustrating it would be to grade a bunch of half-done exams from a professor’s perspective. Why wouldn’t I meet them halfway? Finally, I chose to take these classes because I was interested. Shouldn’t I want to know more?

The bottom line is that the pass/fail decision was made to help students who are in real trouble and may not be able to perform at their highest levels, not to let everyone sit back and relax. We are all at varying Defcon stress levels, some far worse than others. In reality, this is not the only crisis or major change we are going to see in our adult lives. And I am so lucky to only really have to think about finals during this time, albeit under less-than-ideal circumstances. But with that, I urge you to use this finals season as a learning experience, as I am trying to do. When you look back on these times, would you be proud of how you handled a crisis? Hopefully I will be.



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