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Final exam schedules as a Market

We can think of final exam scheduling as a market. Every student has a preference for which exam time works best for each class. Every student is allocated a time for every exam. The currency is the ability to take exams. The giver, in this case a college’s schedule of exam times does not receive the currency. However, by allocating the resources efficiently they minimize the number of conflict reschedules they have to do. The buyers, students are best off when their exams are far apart and have no conflicts, this is what they strictly prefer and would be willing to pay the most for, however, there is no money in this market. Having money in this market would make scheduling exams very difficult, as people would try to schedule their exams at all different times at the expense of the administration having to offer one exam at many different times. Secondly, it would be unethical as students who could spend more on getting the best exam times would be more likely to do well on exams than those who could not afford the price of a perfect exam week.

When thinking about the market design, the main determinate of the final exam schedule is one that minimizes conflicts. When the final exam schedule is chosen the exam times minimize direct conflicts. For example, many engineers take Calculus and Physics at the same time so Calculus and Physics exams should not be scheduled at the same time. The college schedules their exams so that it minimizes conflicts. An alternative design element that could improve allocations would be to have students submit their exam scheduling preferences. Students would never schedule their exams to have a direct conflict. The most students that may have a conflict between two classes will have scheduled those exams for different times. Further, this would allow students to express preferences that would not necessarily be reflected in the school’s scheduling. For example, students might give preferences that have easier exams earlier in finals week and more challenging exams later.

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