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    Final Exams

    Final Exams

    I just finished classes on Thursday and now I’m in finals territory. I have two papers and two cumulative exams between this week and next.

    I abhor cumulative exams. They are a total time drain and I have yet to feel productive while studying for one. It inevitably turns into a cramming session, no matter how far ahead I plan, where I spend hours trying to find clever ways to remember the spelling of chemical X or the sequence of generals in a particular war….

    Anyway, I liked Steve Horwitz’s recent facebook update that explains why this method is lame, particularly in this generation:

    “Why an open books, open notes final exam, Professor Horwitz?

    Because life is an open book exam. You can always look stuff up. Expecting you to memorize dates and people and names of laws is silly in a world where we have the Internet in our pockets. The hard part is having good frameworks with which to analyze information and tell intelligible stories. The implication, of course, is that you can expect an exam that will focus on the big picture and your ability to synthesize information and compare and contrast the ideas of authors we’ve read and the events of eras we’ve studied. THOSE are things you cannot look up on your smartphone.”

    Let’s hope the sentiment spreads throughout upstate New York by May 2012.


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    nordic_prince | December 4, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    I agree with Awing1, irv, and janitor. “Knowing facts” is superior to “googling facts,” as indicated in this article ( by the cognitive scientist Daniel T. Willingham.

    scooby509 | December 4, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Whether the exam is open-book or not is immaterial. You’re being compared to your peers who all have the same difficulties you do; the exams are then graded on a curve.

    The solution is to identify your competent peers and sabotage their efforts. You don’t have to kill them, just prevent them from studying, or arriving on time. If some of them arrive by car, leak some information to the local occupy movement to snarl traffic. Encourage friends to have a party next door while they’re studying. Be creative!

    Henry Hawkins | December 4, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    When the power goes off and all the batteries have gone dead, I will rule the world.

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