The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

First-year guard Aaryn Battle (1) dribbles the ball during Thursday evening’s game against Wake Forest in the Petersen Events Center.
Pitt women’s basketball falls back into their old habits, fall to Wake Forest 65-50
By Sara Meyer, Staff Writer • 9:10 am

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

First-year guard Aaryn Battle (1) dribbles the ball during Thursday evening’s game against Wake Forest in the Petersen Events Center.
Pitt women’s basketball falls back into their old habits, fall to Wake Forest 65-50
By Sara Meyer, Staff Writer • 9:10 am

Students share thoughts on final exams versus essays

Students+share+thoughts+on+final+exams+versus+essays
Annika Esseku | Contributing Editor

Lucy Lande said final essays provide a greater opportunity to exercise creativity than traditional final exams. 

“It can help your work stand out,” Lande, a first-year anthropology major, said. “And at least for me, it would make the topic more interesting to do and may make me care more about the project, enhancing my learning.”

As another semester draws to a close, students across Pitt’s campus are preparing themselves for finals week. Different courses give different types of final assessments, such as exams, papers or projects, and students report mixed feelings as to which they prefer. 

Lande said while the majority of her finals are exams, she has some essays due as well. 

“Three-fifths of my classes are just exams, one is a final in-class essay, and one class has both a final essay and an exam,” Lande said.

While writing a paper or completing a project may seem exciting, Lande touched on the advantages and disadvantages of these kinds of final assessments. 

“The advantages could be having the time or the ability to get feedback in office hours from professors, but the disadvantage is that these projects or essays would be longer and likely more difficult than a sit-down exam,” Lande said.

Lande also said she personally prefers exams but added that it can differ from class to class.

“I would prefer projects or papers as I would probably have more time to complete them, but again, it would depend on the class,” Lande said. “I wouldn’t want a multiple-choice exam for a writing class or an essay for a math class.”

However, students like Jessica Rinaldi, a first-year psychology major, said exams are a better format for her.

“I prefer exams because I personally never felt that projects thoroughly tested my knowledge at all,” Rinaldi said. “I think they are time-consuming and a waste because they are easier to make stuff up on.”

Rinaldi has mostly exam finals this semester and said exams suit her learning style better than a creative project or paper.

“I don’t like creative projects, so I dread those more than exams. I think it adds value to the learning experience for some, but not others,” Rinaldi said.

Emma Sihavong, a first-year political science major, also has a variety of final formats for her courses this semester. 

“For my finals, I have one in-person exam, one online exam, a writing portfolio, and then a final story for my journalism course,” Sihavong said.

When it comes to taking final exams, Sihavong finds herself “freaking out” and under a lot of stress. She said she prefers final papers over exams. 

“I feel like after exams I forget everything I study, but with writing papers or essays, I remember the research I spent hours looking for,” Sihavong said. “I also remember the random facts I’d find late at night when desperately searching for sources.”

Students like Maya Koski, a first-year psychology major, agree with Sihavong on preferring paper or project finals over exams. Koski said exams do not always reflect a student’s true abilities due to stress, lack of preparation or anxiety. 

“I think papers and projects show my knowledge better than an exam. They allow for more creativity and show what you learned from the course throughout the semester rather than exams,” Koski said.

Koski further emphasized why she dislikes exam finals. 

“You are trying to figure out what you can do in the fastest amount of time rather than doing your best work,” Koski said.

Students also want their finals to help prepare them for their future and jobs outside of college, according to Koski.

“I think the papers and projects will prepare me for my future career because I know when I am in a higher position in business or marketing, I will have to show my knowledge and experience through projects and presentations,” Koski said.

Koski also mentioned that projects and papers allow students to use practical applications of knowledge rather than memorizing information to fill out an exam.

“I will not be given tests to show what I know in my future career. I will have to talk and interact with others to show what I know and pick my path of expertise, and I think projects or papers help craft this idea,” Koski said. 

About the Contributor
Emily Handrahan, Staff Writer