Finals: A Freshman's Perspective
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about my first experience with midterms at Dartmouth. While they were a little stressful, they were ultimately a learning experience and turned out to be much less intimidating than I thought they would be. As week 10 (the last one!) of fall term approaches, so do finals — and those are definitely intimidating.
While midterms are worth a decent chunk of your grade, finals are typically much more impactful. In addition, they tend to be more extensive; this makes studying for them more work than midterms, because there's more material to cover. However, these types of exams are important — studying for them helps me review and synthesize what I've spent this semester working on.
For my Arabic language class, the final is what you would traditionally expect from an exam. A pen-and-paper test of various concepts, vocabulary, and grammatical rules that we've covered. At Dartmouth, language classes feel neverending, in the sense that the combination of drills, homework, and daily classes tend to be very consuming. On one hand, this is stressful; on the other, I am amazed at how much Arabic I've been able to learn in a 10-week period. Studying for the exam will be an opportunity to review all the Arabic I've learned, and I'm actually looking forward to the opportunity of synthesizing my knowledge.
My Introduction to Islam final is a little bit less traditional — we will be given two cumulative essay prompts relating to the content of the class, and will have one week to write two 1,000 word responses to those prompts. Again, this is a great opportunity to condense my knowledge and be able to communicate in a clear and concise manner (1000 words isn't that many!). I'm grateful that we have time to work on the essays, because it will allow me to ensure that I'm proud of my writing.
My Israel-Palestine Politics final is the real kicker; given the complexity and nuance of the conflict, we have done tons of readings over the course of the term, and the final assignments are quite comprehensive. For example, the prompt of our final essay is to "outline the next steps to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict" at any point in history. This paper is tons of fun to write, but also a lot of work due to the required research and thought that must be put into it. However, while writing the paper I definitely am surprised at all the facts and information that I've learned over the course of the term, and how I'm able to apply that into my paper.
So, yes — finals are definitely more time-consuming than midterms. However, they also provide an excellent chance to synthesize my learning from this fall term. Reflecting on the material covered in my classes helps realize all I've done during these 10 weeks, and definitely provides a sense of accomplishment. Anyway, I should probably go back to working on that essay.
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