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The Types of Finals Students Prefer and Why

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Simmons chapter.

I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who enjoys taking finals. However, some professors structure their exams in ways that are much more preferable than the standard. Here are some examples of finals which some college students prefer.


The Pick 4, Leave One Blank

This one is my favorite kind of final. For open ended, multiple choice, or any other type of question, the professor allows students to choose which of the questions they do and which they don’t. Usually, there are five or six open ended, and students can choose the four or five which they want to answer. My biology teacher in high school used this for our open ended questions. My psychology midterm also included this. We were able to choose seven multiple choice questions to drop, and both open ended sections had options to choose from as well. This makes test taking less stressful, and leaves students more confident in their answers.


The All Multiple Choice

All multiple choice tests are a crowd favorite. There aren’t any questions where you have no idea what to put because the answers are right in front of you. You have a 25% chance of getting each question correct, better odds than an open ended question. And there are so many ways to tell which answers might be right. Some professors use a bogus answer that you know is incorrect. Others use two answers which are polar opposite, in which case it is usually one of the two. Process of elimination is my favorite tool in my language class and it never fails.


The All Open Ended

Believe it or not, I know people who actually prefer all open ended tests to multiple choice. They have a good reason though. You can fake your way through essay questions and eventually work out what the answer is. Most professors aren’t looking to fail you. If you write anything down that looks like what they’re looking for, you can at least get partial credit. Sometimes when I write answers to questions I don’t know, the more I write, the better it gets. Writing down your thought process helps get the answer to come to you.


The Fill in the Blank

I haven’t taken too many fill in the blank tests, but I have done well on the ones I have taken. Every time I’ve taken one, it’s for English or science courses. Your professor is using this, not to make sure that you know all of the information, but most of it. This is another example of a good way to get partial credit. Usually, your answers don’t have to be word for word, or exactly correct. If you write down the basic idea, you can receive partial or even full credit. Study the important information like commonly used vocab or important quotes.


The Composition

This final is new to me, but definitely high up on my list. Compositions are specific to language classes. For my Spanish course, my composition is open textbook and open dictionary. Rather than defining 500 vocab words and matching others, we write a small paper in Spanish, showing that we know how to use the grammar we’ve learned. With a few requirements to follow, this final allows for a more creative test taking experience. It’s harder to get hung up on little words because of the resources available.


The Take Home Final

Besides not having a final, this is pretty much every student’s favorite final. There is much more time to complete this final, so time constraints aren’t as big of a stressor (unless you leave it until the last minute). You can use your notes, do more research if you need to, and you don’t have to sit in a stuffy room for three hours. Take home finals also vary so much from class to class. You could write an essay for one and have a multiple choice packet for another. 


Strap on your armor and get ready for finals everyone! Good luck!

Hayden is a junior at Simmons University studying Psychology and History. She loves to read, write, knit, and sing. She also loves watching RuPaul's Drag Race, Criminal Minds, and Jurassic Park. Hayden is working towards a possible career in correctional/criminal or child psychology.
Julia Hansen is a senior at Simmons studying PR/Marketing Communications and English with minors in cinema, media arts, and graphic design. When not writing for Her Campus, she can be found reading every book she can find, retweeting photos of dogs and binge-watching Parks and Recreation on Netflix. Find her on IG @juliarosehansen