Spontaneous Philosophical Tea Party™

It’s finals period, everyone, and I am quite tired. I subsist off of coffee and daydreams between my bouts of work.

My “finals” consist of two papers, a scientific poster, and one actual exam. I find it much more stressing to turn in a final paper than to take an exam. I’m usually late to my finals. I get plenty of sleep beforehand so I don’t even turn to caffeine. I don’t have to learn anything new, or synthesize lots of information. It’s…great.

Instead I am sleep-deprived and stressed about writing.

So here’s the scholarly / nerd version of boxers vs. briefs: do you prefer finals or papers?

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Vy is a recent graduate working in a neuroscience lab with children and monkeys. She likes sewing, knitting, lifting weights, and reading in her free time. Especially reading about science!


  1. December 14, 2009 at 11:12 am —

    Well, in some cases, a final exam just isn’t appropriate. For example, in my statistical physics of biology class, many of the homework assignments involved something like writing a program to analyse an E. coli DNA sequence in some fashion. That’s not really something you can do during an exam period!

    One thing I know I don’t like is having the entire grade for a class rest on the final. One bad day, and your entire semester is shot.

  2. exarch
    December 15, 2009 at 8:00 am —

    On the upside of finals:
    If you know your stuff, you’ll be allright, whereas with papers (or in my case, presenting your project), it pretty much depended on how sweet your tongue (or your pen) was, not necessarily how good your actual work was. If you’re no good at selling it, it doesn’t get as good a price …

  3. vreify
    December 15, 2009 at 11:28 am —

    @ Black Stacey: Depends on how simple it is, I suppose. The finals I’ve taken for computer science have always asked me to write some code down on paper. And yes, the professors check for syntax, formatting, and the like. The final I just finished 20 minutes ago asked me to write a program that implemented a specific sorting algorithm, and I am now wondering whether the brackets I included were necessary.

  4. December 15, 2009 at 11:36 am —

    Finals. They are so easy. Papers require a lot of work. Finals, I just have to study for an hour the night before.

  5. December 15, 2009 at 2:00 pm —

    In this case, we had to run the code to get any results worth talking about, so just writing it out on paper wouldn’t have been useful (the results were what mattered, not the details of the implementation or even the language used). I suppose we could have taken over a roomful of computers for our exam period — but expecting results in three hours would have been rather unfair to the students who understood the science but coded slowly! (-:

  6. December 15, 2009 at 2:44 pm —

    As a student. Finals. As a teacher. Finals.

    There are cases where papers are a better tool to evaluate a student’s performance, but the more appropriate a paper is, the less I’m likely to like the course.

    And as a teacher a final exam is so much easier to grade.

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