Final Exams - What to Expect

12/10/2011 19:47

Exam Stress!



Whether you’re attending a traditional college or an online school such as Western Governors University, now is the time of year where you are likely facing one of the most stressful situations every college student faces – final exams.

What makes the experience so worrying is if you’re not doing well in a class you fear your test performance may dictate whether you pass or fail the course. Also, since every professor is different, sometimes it is hard to know what to expect.  

The good news is there are only about four main types of exams you will receive on finals week, and out of those, you only need to really study for one. Like anything else in college (and in life), finals are merely a game – play it correctly and you won’t have to repeat any courses.

1. The Open Book Exam

Out of all your professors, you will undoubtedly have one who has so little confidence in their students’ knowledge that they decide to make themselves and everyone else in the class look better by assigning an open book exam. Just spend a few hours highlighting the important stuff in your textbook and you’ll be in good shape – no need to commit anything to memory.

2. The Extremely Curved Exam

Similar to the professors who assign open book final exams, those who use grading curves have equally poor confidence in their students; the only difference is they are still trying to save face. They will give you a regular, seemingly challenging exam to create the semblance of having a serious class, but then grade it on such an extreme curve that nearly everyone passes. By this point in the semester you know if your teacher uses a curve. All you have to do is not have one of the lowest scores in the class and you’ll get a passing great – no serious studying required.

3. The Ridiculously Easy Exam

If you read my earlier post on the five professors you will have in college, you know about the wannabe buddy. This teacher will do just about anything to get you to like him/her, including giving you a ridiculously easy final exam. They’ll probably give you a copy of the test so you can memorize the answers before hand, or simply make the questions so simple any moron could pass. Don’t worry about studying. Even if you bomb the test, this professor will figure out a way to make you pass the class.

4. The Legitimate Final Exam

Every semester you will have one professor who truly takes their job seriously and refuses to assign anything but a meaningful final exam that truly tests their students’ knowledge. Usually these are old school teachers who refuse to be part of the dumbing down of the educational system. Again, by this point in the semester, you know if you have a professor like this. If so, don’t even try to mess around. You’re only option is to study your butt off. Luckily, since your other exams will probably fit into one of the other three categories, you can devote all of your study time to this one test and should have no problems passing the class (assuming you weren’t a total flunky on all the other tests).

So, relax… exam week really isn’t all that bad. At this point, I think it is more of a tradition than anything, and in most cases, isn’t going to make or break whether you pass a class.