What it’s like to study at VŠE
I am a student at Prague University of Economics and Business. The exam session is pretty tough here. At VŠE you can get maximum 100 points for each subject, and for some subjects, students can only achieve this number of points if they sit the final test at the end of the term.
Many tutors allow their students to earn points during seminars. Participation during lessons, results of the mid-term tests and total points earned for any term papers and presentations are all taken into consideration as well.
Requirements for each course are outlined in the syllabus. Syllabus contains information about lesson structure and topics that will be discussed during each term; it tells you how many points you can earn at a seminar, how much time you should spend preparing for an exam; it lists relevant literature sources as well as contact details for the tutor responsible for that course.
Students are allowed to sit their exams provided they have attended at least 70% of the seminars. At the same time, attending lectures is not compulsory. So if you don’t like the tutor or the way the material is presented, you can study on your own.
The grading system is different from the way they do it in Russia; 1 is the highest grade, while 5 is the lowest. All the grades and points are recorded electronically. If a student earns a total of 90–100 points throughout the term, then s/he will get ‘1’, 75–89 points equal ‘2’, 60–74 points will get you a ‘3’, and these grades are considered passing grades. If a student earns 50–59 points, s/he gets a so-called unsatisfactory grade ‘4+’. A student may get a chance to correct this grade, but it’s important to remember that there can only be one attempt to re-sit the exam at the best university for economics in the country.
If a student fails a re-sit or if a student earns less than 50 points during one term, then the subject is considered failed, and a bad grade 4 is recorded in the student’s grade book. It means that the student has to enrol in that course once again. It’s not as painless for students as it may seem at first as each student has a total of 36 reserve credits at the beginning of a three-year Bachelor’s degree program granted to last for three years or six terms. Each subject is assigned a certain number of credits, usually six. When a student does well in the subject test, s/he gets these credits and they are recorded in the student’s record book, but if the exam is failed, the reserve credits are lost. Therefore, during those three years a student cannot not fail (and repeat) the course more than six times; that’s the maximum a student can count on.
Most of the VŠE exams are written. It has it’s positives and negatives. On one side, it’s great because you don’t have to be nervous in front of a tutor; on the other side, if you have a test during examination and you score, say, 74 out of 100, that’s the ultimate result, and you are not going to be granted an extra point for anything else, that’s the rules. The only chance to make up the grade is to take the test again, but if this time you earn less points than the previous time, then the latest result will be the one to be recorded. That is why few students are ready to take that risk. Besides, the right to improve the result is granted only to those who earned 3 or 2 in the first attempt.
Generally, the exam session is challenging and rather stressful, but if you study hard during the term, then you should not have any problems. It is mostly the knowledge that you have gained at lectures and seminars that is assessed.
The substantial advantage of VŠE students over students from other universities is that they can independently plan their examination period and arrange exams in the most suitable way. Though, you should not take all tests and exams at the same time, especially if you are not absolutely confident in your success. Preparing for multiple exams at the same time is incredibly demanding both physically and mentally. My advice is to have plenty of patience and chocolate and extend the examination period by 3-4 weeks.
Daria Gnilobokova, a VŠE student, Faculty of International Relations
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