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Academic Reserve Week at the United States Naval Academy

Sep 20, 2019

Academic Reserve Week is upon the Brigade of Midshipmen, which is comparable to a Midterm exam week at other universities.  However, instead of administering a single Midterm exam, the Naval Academy has Six Week, Twelve Week, and Final exams. Aptly named, these exams take place during the 6th and 12th week of each semester and you will commonly hear referred to as “six weeks” and “twelve weeks,” respectively. 


During Academic Reserve Week, exams for the Naval Academy Core courses are administered in the “X-period” time slot, which runs from 0655-0745.  In order to maintain standardization of core classes, which all midshipmen are required to take, exams are administered to everyone taking the same course during the X-period.  For example, everyone in SY110, the plebe Cyber course, will take their exam on Tuesday morning, September 24th at 0655! Some mids may have cyber 2nd period, and some may have it 5th period, but everyone takes the exam during that X-period instead. The purpose of X-period exams is to prevent cheating or talking about the exam between periods. The large majority of exams for major courses and electives are taken during their normally scheduled class periods.

Now, while exam week is never fun for anyone, there are a couple of advantages (especially for plebes) to exam weeks.  Below are three ways Academic Reserve Week is both better and worse than a normal week of class!

 3 Ways Academic Reserve Week is better

  1. No Professional Knowledge! For those of you who want to learn more about what professional knowledge is, check out this article! However, during the Academic Reserve week, there is no professional knowledge exam, which means Plebes are not required to study for anything except for their academic courses.  Additionally, with no pro-know means no come arounds, giving plebes an extra couple hours during the week to study.

  2. MUSIC!! (hopefully…)

    During Academic Reserve Week, most companies will grant plebes a modified version of “carry on,” alieving some of their restrictions during their normal weeks.  During plebe year, plebes are not allowed to “rate media,” meaning they are unable to listen to music, watch TV/movies/videos, or play video games. However, during exam week, plebes are usually given the ability to listen to music in order to help them focus and study.

  3. “Comp periods!” Because X-period takes place outside of the schedule of a normal school day, the academic departments give “comp periods” to compensate for the additional time requirement.  As a result, midshipmen will get one period canceled, which will then become a free period, in order to make up for the additional time. Comp periods will only be given for exams taken during the X-period.

 3 Ways Academic Reserve Week is Worse

1. Exams

Yeah nothing revolutionary here, but honestly the exams stink.  The large majority of exams are extremely difficult and contribute a large weight to a midshipman’s overall grade in the course, which puts pressure on the midshipmen to do well. And while having exams at the 6 week mark instead of the midterm mark decreases the amount of material that could be covered in that testing period, there is still so much material covered that taking the exam can sometimes feel like this:

2. X-Periods are early

Yes, I understand that midshipmen are used to waking up early and getting a start on the day, but there is something different when it comes to taking an exam that has a major impact on your grade at 0655.  When you get punched in the gut before 8 in the morning, it hurts a little extra.

This final one is more directed to upperclassmen, but it usually leads to large amounts of sleep deprivation (which is 100% our own fault). 

3. With the power of Netflix at your fingertips, it is impossible to resist the temptation to procrastinate studying to watch your favorite show on Netflix (and trust me, TV shows are WAAYYY better when you’re watching them when you should be studying). 

I once finished the entirety of How I Met Your Mother during my final exam week. While I do take much pride in that fact and find it relatively impressive, I probably would have been far less tired and had a much better GPA if I had been studying for about 25% of the time I spent texting all my friends “Man, I’m so screwed for this exam” while actively watching Netflix.

Best of luck to all the midshipmen taking their exams this week and may the odds be ever in your favor.

If you would like to learn more about academic reserve week, check out my video on this topic.