Final Exams

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I am in the process of finishing up the end of my sophomore year. Final exams are always interesting, as the whole point is to evaluate how much you have learned over the course of the semester during a short two-hour window. The students read and review and try to cram as much information into their heads as possible in the hopes of retaining it just long enough for them to finish their exams.

But what happens then?

After the final is over, the students will themselves to forget all of the misery and struggle of the semester, and instead focus on relaxing and enjoying their summer... that, or working and making money.  The problem is that the majority of that information isn't retained: it is lost for good.

Are tests really effective? I don't think so. I think a much better form of evaluation is the essay. An essay may take the same amount (or greater) of effort, but it requires a more drawn-out period of time to complete. The students are allowed to put more thought and care into it, and then at the end of the year they may turn the essay in, but they also have a copy of it to keep.

They have created something... and hopefully they have created something that is good and worthwhile. And due to the length of time that they took to create it, the information has a better chance of sticking somewhere up there.

And no, I'm not proposing that everyone nix the multiple choice and switch to timed essay tests... dang, I hate timed writing.