Final Exams

I strongly believe that if a final exam is longer than two pages and takes longer than an hour to grade for a group of 30 students, there’s something wrong with the final exam. I want students to participate actively every day of class and not to cram like crazy for one huge exam at the end, the entirety of which they will forget two minutes after leaving the classroom.

In language courses, I put the emphasis on oral exams, which means that students speak in Spanish for the entire class session. No writing or dictionaries are allowed. One word in English, and you get a warning. Two words, and you fail the exam. I provide discussion topics at the appropriate level. The grades are all ready by the end of the exam. I have several of these exams throughout the semester.

As a result, one thing I don’t do during the last two weeks of the semester is grade. “The grading jail” is entirely self-inflicted.


One thought on “Final Exams”

  1. My finals are longer than two pages, but I try to keep them very straightforward – clear questions, a focus on the main aspects of the course, no trick questions, no oddball random stuff. I want the students who came and made a reasonable effort in the course to walk out of the final feeling like they did really well on it. And a test they do well on is usually pretty quick and relatively painless to grade.


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