As the first semester winds down, teachers across all disciplines start handing out review packets or sheets of guidelines. These packets and sheets signify the start of the midterm season, in which students are tested on their comprehension of the last semester’s worth of material, whether it be through long projects or written exams.
The decision to make a final exam a test or a project is highly dependent on the course material. In Journalism, for example, students are expected to compile a portfolio of the work they completed that semester, which would be an example of a project. In a class like math, an exam will be taken covering the content from that semester.
Projects offer a way for many students to have a lower stress experience on such an important assessment during the semester. Instead of having to prove their understanding during a several hour period, some students enjoy having the ability to demonstrate their knowledge through a project that stretches several weeks. It allows them to work slowly and methodically on what is typically a creative project. Additionally, having a project that is due before the exam testing schedule frees up time for students that wish to study for written tests in other classes. A downside that often comes with this course of action are that it takes a large time commitment to get a project done well.
“I personally definitely prefer doing projects to tests. Instead of going in and taking a test for an hour and a half, you get much longer time to get things done right,” said sophomore Jonas Bray.
Tests serve as the alternate method for some students to demonstrate a semester’s worth of knowledge. Instead of having to spend weeks on a project, students get to have an examination that only lasts a couple of hours, greatly reducing the time needed to be spent on that class. Some students prefer this method because they test well and are able to demonstrate their course proficiency very effectively on an examination. But, just like some students dislike longer projects, some students dislike exams because of how exams are graded, a large portion of the semester grade rests on a single test, which can feel like a lot of pressure.
While there is not a certain “right” way to evaluate students at the end of the semester, students should know that the teacher will always pick the testing method that they feel will best work to the student’s ability. Whether it be a test or a project, there are plenty of opportunities for students to excel no matter how they’re tested.