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Taking In-Person Exams After Almost 18 Months

It’s hard to remember the last time I took an in-person exam before this midterm season. The pandemic shortened the last semester of my high school career. I had to take the Advanced Placement test (AP) online which was not a bad solution given the time we were in in 2020. I am grateful enough to live in a privileged country where resources exist to transform our in-person education into an online version. My childhood friends from my home country fell behind by one year in their education because having a laptop or a computer, or having access to WiFi is a rare thing in most households. Thankfully, it’s changing because of an increased demand for online learning as a result of the pandemic. 

Even though I am thankful that I was able to continue my education throughout the pandemic, during my freshman year of college, some of my online exams were either untimed or open book. When professors write exam papers for an untimed test they will give you the most obscure questions. I remember taking my Calculus 2 exam. I remember spending 8 hours on the final test and it was mentally draining. As a professional procrastinator, I spent the day before the test studying and catching up with lectures. After studying for a day, I had to think about the same subject for 8 more hours. Remembering this experience makes me thankful for in-person exams. 

My first in-person exam of my college life that happens to be in this midterm season is Linear Algebra. I ended up sleeping at 4:30 am after reviewing all my notes and woke up around 9 am to review more to prepare for the 10:10 am math exam. I was anxious because I was worried about time running out. Even though the professor told us that he will give us easy problems to solve because it’s an in-person exam, I was scared about the professor writing gruesome questions as my Calculus 2 professor had done. Thankfully, the exam wasn’t hard and I was surprised to see the professor didn’t add a complicated question just for the sake of adding a complicated question. Finally, it felt nice to finish an exam in just an hour and 15 minutes. 

I am writing this last paragraph of this article during my finals week. Now, Covid-19 has a new variant called Omicron. There has been a rising number of Covid cases in the US and a lot of colleges are moving their finals online. College students are saying that this is giving them the March 2020 vibe when all in-person classes were made online during the midterm season. I am taking my final exam for Linear Algebra tomorrow (17 December 2021). I just hope that I get to take this final in person. 

Tasmim Rahman

Columbia Barnard '24

Hi, my name is Tasmim Rahman. People call me in 50 different ways, including Tasmin, Tasnim, Taslim. I am a freshman at Barnard College who is interested in majoring in Economics and Mathematical Sciences. Sometimes you will see me being in deep thoughts in the middle of the day or taking a big nap.
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