Final Exams Versus Final Papers

Final Exams Versus Final Papers

Which ones are better?

Finals week is a stressful week for everyone. The idea of recalling all of the information that you have learned since the first week of the semester tends to psych most people out. Some professors will be life savers and grant students with no finals at all. Other professors could never fathom the idea of letting their students go home early, so they will either assign a final exam or a final paper. The big question is, which one is better: taking a final exam or writing a final paper?

The pros of taking a final exam are that it is a “one and done” deal. There is no way to procrastinate taking one. You walk into your classroom, take the exam, and are done. You don’t have the ability to text your friends on your phone or check Facebook on your computer. It’s just you and the test.

The cons of taking a final exam are that if you procrastinate studying or wait until the night before to look over your notes, odds are you did not study enough and you’re going to do poorly on the test, no questions asked. You sit down at your desk, your professor hands you your exam, you write your name at the top of the paper, look at the first question, and are just absolutely lost.

The pros of writing a final paper are that you have endless resources at your fingertips. The power of the Google search engine guides you throughout the process of writing an A+ paper. You also have the ability to pull information from class to incorporate into your final paper. You can then impress your teacher by saying, “This topic relates to the discussion we had in class…” Major brownie points right there.

The cons of writing a final paper are the infinite distractions. Unless you lock yourself in a small room that no one knows about without a phone or a computer, you’ll find yourself coming across distractions. Between texts and Snapchats and other notifications from any and all social media, if you are as big of a procrastinator as me, you will not ignore those notifications.

So, which one is better: taking a final exam or writing a final paper? In a perfect world, professors know how stressful finals week is and let their students go home right after the last day of classes. In a semi-perfect world, you have a good balance between exams and papers. You may have a few exams, but you also have one or two papers to break up the agony of studying. However, in a more realistic world, you have no final exams but all final papers, or you have no final papers but all final exams. The answer to which one is better definitely depends on the student. But, if there are any professors out there that don’t believe in finals, please, go have a conversation with my professors.

Cover Image Credit: The Sentinel Newspapers

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