Give me exams, not projects

By Sarah Wang | Staff Writer

Overall, professors use two types of assessments to check students’ knowledge of course material in a semester: exams and projects. Both seem to bug students a lot and keep them stuck in the library for hours, but I still have a preference between the two options.

To be honest, I’m not a great fit for exams. I did not do well on almost all of the most important exams I have taken in my life so far. Note that when I mention the phrase “did not do well,” I mean trying really hard but not getting a good grade; I score much higher on my exercises and model exams but always fail to do well the day of.

It seems projects are much easier than exams. With a longer range of time to devote to your projects and the chance to meet professors during office hours to work on them, they appear less stressful than exams — on which you have limited time assigned to test, really, your memory.

I have to admit that these two assessments can’t be compared in the strictest means, because they take different roles in academics; exams mostly consolidate your theoretical knowledge, and projects offer real-world practice. The relationship between the two is also complementary, not competitive. Thus, the preference I have comes from another aspect: time.

You can cram for an exam tomorrow, but you can’t do so with projects — at least, I am not able to do that with my projects. The process for completing my projects is the following: field working, researching and putting things together. It is impossible for me to sit down and start cramming for projects before I have physically finished the real-world practice in the very first step. In this sense, doing projects can take much more time than preparing for exams does.

On the other hand, sometimes you can’t meet your professors’ expectations for projects — which require time apart from sitting in class, even though there are only limited time slots in a busy, involved college life. Your professors are always expecting the best of you, which is reasonable. The truth is, there is only limited time for you to work on respective projects for different courses, and you can’t always be able to give your best work. Both of these assessments take time and planning. As a student, make sure you’re preparing accordingly.

Exams take less time to prepare for and make more sense for a college student’s schedule. For me, exams show their superiority.