Because life is a series of edits

Final(s) Thoughts?

In Education on December 17, 2007 at 6:13 pm

Today was my last teaching day of the semester at Westminster, as the rest of the week consists of final exams and a whole lot of grading. I didn’t “teach” much today, but instead finished reviewing and just enjoyed hanging out with my students. It was a good day, and I realized how much I’m going to miss them over the break when finals end on Friday.

Personally, I don’t have many memories of high school final exams, largely because my high school didn’t require students with perfect attendance to take any. We could take exams if we “wanted,” but they could only help our grade and wouldn’t hurt it; thus, those who took them “for fun” rarely studied too hard and saw little increase of their grade or understanding.

Because colleges still gave final exams, my parents and I thought it might be a good idea to have some practice; unfortunately, however, I’m still not that great of a test-taker (or, more accurately, a preparer for them). Despite my alma mater’s stupid final exam policy (which they’ve thankfully since changed), it’s amazing I learned anything in high school.

Anyway, in order to give my students some perspective about high school finals (and seeing as I don’t have any of my own that might compare), might you offer a good story or word of wisdom from your own experience? If I get a couple, I may pull up the blog and start each testing period with a few thoughts from those who have been there and lived to tell about it.

  1. Here a teachable moment for your class:

    It was my senior year and the last thing I had to do before graduation was take a physics exam. There were only eight of us taking it because everyone else had A’s and were exempt. Two of the eight had B’s and could get an A, depending on how they did on the final; the rest of us could care less and knew that even if we bombed it we would still graduate.

    So, we went in deciding to see who could finish the fastest. It was Scantron (you know multiple choice where you fill in the bubbles – do they still have those?) so me and my buddies were rushing through and our teacher was livid. I was randomly choosing which bubble to fill in, but they were “Christmas treeing” it, going back and forth diagonally. I finished first, they all failed the exam, and I got a D!

    I passed with no studying and finishing in under 5 minutes. Do you think I should try that on my Psalms and Wisdom final tomorrow?

    So, the moral of the story is that random is better than patterns, and high school finals don’t really matter (even if you’re the teacher).

  2. Our high school finals were always after Christmas break. Talk about cruel–especially for those of us whose reactions to exams are not unlike your wife’s!

  3. i went to school in the dark ages when exams weren’t all multiple choice or T-F (for scans). often we didn’t even know ahead of time what KIND of test it was going to be–short answer, essay, multiple choice, etc. for me, that affects the way i study. if i have to come up with ALL the info (short answer, essay) i have to study in a lot more detail than multiple choice where i choose from info given to me. i do much better on those b/c i’m good at educated guessing. i guess it depends on what skills you want to develop in your kids as to the type of testing you do. do you want them to be able to write and express themselves concisely…and test that? do you want them to be able to look sets of facts and choose the best of those? (discernment?) do you want them to develop and black and white concept to truth (T-F) (i used to be very good at that in my legalistic days…i’m not so good at that now that life didn’t turn out to be that neat:) and so you have it. m

  4. i used to get as much info from friends on the way to class because i never studied. i never got below a B. my words of wisdom are: perfection gets you nothing but an ulcer, know when enough is enough.

  5. Halfway through her New Testament final, one of my students informed me that she liked her Drama final better than mine. Shock.

  6. My only advice is this: Don’t start drinking coffee or Red Bull or any other energy drink during finals. The extra stimulants actually deplete your brain from firing power and make you feel so queasy that you’ll be more focused on your stomach hurting than what you’re trying to learn. (Not that I know from experience or anything.) Oh, and it actually helps to read the material listed on the syllabus. Ya, you betcha.

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