Two of my friends in the group, Balázs and Bálint, showed up at the university dressed up in 3-piece suits, white shirts, and ties this morning. I haven’t seen much of them since the beginning of the year; they are both masters students and are in their final exam period now (today was their Physical Organic Chemistry exam). They join the smaller-than-usual, but better dressed-than-usual group of students that I find at the university each day (and Hungarian students are already better dressed than their American counterparts — no flip-flops, slippers, sweatpants, or PJs). Students spend most of their time studying and only come in for exams, which are held between December 17 and February 1 (yes, 6 weeks!).
Why 6 weeks and 3-piece suits for exams, you ask? Well, let’s just say the final exams are very important. That’s actually an understatement — they are everything. I asked Balázs and Bálint whether they had any other assignments, quizzes, exams, papers, etc in the Physical Organic Chemistry course yet. Nope, just this final exam — an oral exam with just you and the professor. The topics are wide open and can include any material covered during the semester. I suppose that procrastinators don’t fluorish (or survive) in this system. Good luck Balázs and Bálint!
UPDATE: Balázs has returned and received a 4 for the exam/course (5 is the highest); everyone seemed pleased. Bálint actually has a different exam: a comprehensive exam covering all of his inorganic courses. It is also an oral exam (with 3 professors) and starts in 30 minutes. I asked him how long he expected it to be; he didn’t know but said (sarcastically) that he anticipated “long fun”.