First Day of Classes, HUB Study Area

Gigi Tretina (junior-psychology) studies from a row of mostly empty chairs in HUB-Robeson Center on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020.

Fall semester is officially coming to an end, and most Penn State students are taking finals.

Some students have different types of finals — exams, projects or essays — depending on which courses and professors they’re taking.

Student Ava Fearer has five finals this semester, including three exams and two projects.

“I preferred taking exams for finals, because the projects I had were very extensive and honestly took more time and work than studying for my exams,” Fearer (freshman-digital and print journalism) said.

Even if Fearer prefers taking exams over having projects, she doesn’t think there is necessarily a better way of taking finals, as she thinks they “both show a student’s knowledge of what they learned over the semester.”

Moreover, Fearer said final projects can be more “inclusive” as opposed to final exams.

“I think projects can be more helpful for students who aren’t necessarily good test takers,” Fearer said. “Because I think some students do learn a lot and work hard, but can’t accurately show what they learned through a test.”

Neel Doshi has three finals in total, and all three are exams.

“I prefer exams, because grades become objective and truly reflect your abilities,” Doshi (senior-finance) said. “I also think that exams help [students] understand the course material better and force you to study.”

Doshi believes exams are better for finals, since the questions reflect the student's true understanding of the concepts in the class.

However, Madyson Cioni prefers having projects for finals.

Cioni (junior-broadcast journalism) said they are a better way to end a course, since she stresses more when it comes to exams.

Cioni has one exam and one paper for her finals, and she prefers papers over exams.

“Because of my major, I enjoy writing more, so I would prefer papers over exams,” Cioni said.

Moreover, Alexander Riggle also prefers projects over exams.

“I like projects, because I can spend as much time as I want on it,” Riggle (freshman-broadcast journalism) said.

However, Riggle said exams are a better way to take finals.

Riggle said exams could be completed easily online, but students have to complete projects from home.

Regardless of online classes due to the spread of the coronavirus, Cioni and Doshi said the dynamic of finals week has remained the same.

“From day one it was clear in the syllabus what assignments we were going to have throughout the semester… it being a final exam or paper or project,” Cioni said.

Doshi said nothing has changed too much when it comes to finals — aside from the new virtual setting.

“Remote learning thankfully didn't change anything as most of my classes [had] major finals,” Doshi said. “The only thing changed was that the finals were online and professors used Zoom to monitor it.”

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