Image description: A student facepalms in front of a square of palm trees, the NYU torch logo above his head.
Image description: A student facepalms in front of a square of palm trees, the NYU torch logo above his head.

Illustration by Izah Sohail.

Perpetual Midterm Season Continues

For 14 years, professors have scheduled midterms whenever they pleased. Stressed students with a chronic need to get ahead have made the whole year midterm season.

Apr 1, 2024

Beholden to no academic framework, no sense of reason, and no common sense, professors at NYU Abu Dhabi can schedule “midterms” whenever they want.
Is it the first week’s Friday recitation? The week before the final exams? It doesn’t matter, you might just find an email in your NYU inbox about a test or a project you had never anticipated. Or worse, you might show up to class after a long night devoid of pen, calculator, or brainpower but facing the most devious set of calculus questions.
But one might think such a crisis could be overcome with meticulous organization. Perhaps that is why NYUAD students plan every minute of their day. Because a minute free on their Google Calendar is a minute wasted.
Despite countless hours spent studying and even more color coding his planners, Class of 2026 student Agenda McTimeline could only answer two of the questions on his Intermediate Micro midterm. For the rest of them, he drew pictures of a gazelle and the Palms and wrote down an earnest request for extra credit.
After spring break, he found out that he passed the midterm on the curve because the rest of the class did even worse, but the experience still shook him. He resolved to begin studying for his final of four finance midterms, which would take place on April 30, last week.
“I feel like there’s a new test every day. Isn’t there a point of university besides taking tests?” he asked himself in disillusionment last month. But upon asking each of his friends to hang out, it turned out that they all had a midterm to study for either the next day or shortly after. Even the campus cats were away from their usual spot at the palms, likely studying for exams too.
Meanwhile, in an interview that had to be obtained over Zoom because he was at the airport again, Class of 2026 student Projidi Knosbest said that the academic experience on campus is actually too easy. “Just because everyone’s dead inside doesn’t mean we should ease up,” he said. “Skill issue,” he added. Known to solve Algorithms homework in his sleep, Projidi in fact earned a score of 100 percent — before the curve — on that same microeconomics midterm. This important detail was already known by the rest of his class, who eagerly awaited Projidi’s downfall or appointment at Goldman Sachs.
“I just want tests designed for normal students at normal times. Like there’s a midterm week, isn’t that where they’re supposed to go?” McTimeline asked. Indeed, McTimeline’s experience is generally unique across American universities, where students are known to focus on extraneous activities such as having a social life and smiling. Before he had time to deliberate on the merits of perpetual midterm season, McTimeline had to finish writing a term paper that was assigned yesterday and due tomorrow. He grabbed a double espresso and got to work.
“What’s a few more exams anyway?” he mused as he walked away. “I’ve lost any sense of who I am outside this bubble, and it will stay that way until I get a job that also doesn’t give me enough time to figure it out. Maybe they have midterms too at work.”
Ethan Fulton is Editor-in-Chief and Satire Columnist. Email them at
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