Mountains, Dartmouth, Simon Ellis
« All Posts by this Blogger

What are finals like at Dartmouth?

A: Simon headshot

Something that is relatively important to a Dartmouth term that has an unnecessary mysticism about it is the elusive period of testing at the end of every term known simply as "finals." While they are certainly difficult and do take a lot of work, finals in college and at Dartmouth look far different than I ever would have expected, so I thought I would share the format of a few of my finals to show you that a) finals can be fun (really I promise) and b), they are not just sitting in a quiet classroom taking a test (most of the time).

In fact, this term I only have one "in-class" final. It's for my class, Federal Indian Law, and on the day of the final we will tackle an exam that asks us to synthesize our breadth of legal knowledge and apply them to real court cases. Our professor is looking to see if we have a good understanding of the material, but also if we are critically thinking and creating strong logical arguments. He has told us time and time again that this class is just like a law school course, so it has been great practice for me, and a class that has really kept my interest all term. I am sure the test is going to be difficult, but the fact that it is preparing us to perform at the level of lawyers is amazing and something I am very excited for.

But like I said, not every class has a test as a final. My Art History class, Borderlands Art and Theory,  has a final unlike any other class I have ever seen; we are all writing a real acquisition proposition for our museum!  For this project, each student selected a different artist who somehow connects to the subject of borderlands-art, which is art that deals with geographic, cultural, spiritual, and other forms of borders. I have selected a Dartmouth Alumnus who does traditional Passamaquoddy black-ash basket weaving, and am proposing that the Hood Museum acquire several of his baskets and even commission a basket from him for display in one of the galleries of the museum. After being graded, our professor is going to submit all of our proposals to the Hood and we fully expect that several of our pieces will get purchased!

I like the contrasts and comparisons between these two examples of finals because while they are both serious, difficult, and take a lot of work, they show two very different mediums of evaluation and each gives me different ways to prove what I have learned throughout the term. Some of my friends have never had a sit-down final and some have never had a long research paper, but I appreciate that with what I study, I am usually able to have a good mix. 

Posts You Might Like