The Easter (that is the 'summer') Term in Cambridge isn't much fun honestly. All the students think about is the upcoming exams. This means that you get pretty full houses to your lectures, but instead of engaging and arguing and answering back, they are hanging on your every word hoping to commit it to memory, to be regurgitated soon.
For me, this is a downer.. and it's especially a downer if you are examining a paper you are lecturing for. There is not much that is more intellectually humiliating than reading 75 scripts, where each candidate has fed you back a more or less well remembered version of a lecture you gave a month ago (to put it another way, it shows you how unclear your lectures must be).
As for supervisions (that's our small group teaching), they move from the argumentative and productive exchange of views of MIchaelmas and Lent, into something more like a counselling session. I can't count the times I have said this term... the key is to ANSWER THE QUESTION and to ARGUE (don't just 'write all you know about . . . "); if the question looks simple, it almost certainly isnt .. so think why not; go beyond the lectures and dont just regurgitate them; more marks are lost by being too tired or not answering the question or going to the wrong exam room than by ignorance....
So why do sudden death exams? Wouldn't some form of continuous assesment be fairer and better and more educationally productive?