Final Projects vs Final Exams



As the end of the school year approaches, students and teachers are getting ready for finals.  For some, a final means a big, cumulative test on the designated “final exam” day during the last week of school.  For others, it means a cumulative project or portfolio, like a poster board or slideshow that shows how students have progressed throughout the year.       

“I like projects because they show more effort and really encompass what you learned during the year,” said junior Anna Ustun. “Tests are so specific that you either get lucky or unlucky with the questions on the exam, so it’s way harder and more stressful to study.”

“During the school year, sometimes teachers don’t let us showcase our creativity,” said sophomore Lauren Williams.  “[I] do [my] best [when I’m creative]. [A project] provides us with a chance to  show teachers that we are creative.”

Some teachers seem partial to projects over tests.  For his final grade this year, AP Biology teacher Ed Chapman had students dissect a fetal pig and do a project that analyzed a trend in a scientific topic throughout the year.  Students began working on this project during the first month of school.

“West Potomac High School encourages teachers to give students culminating projects  and labs instead of final exams,” said Chapman. “Usually I can integrate ideas and themes formally as I move between groups answering and asking questions.”

Unlike Chapman, some teachers still prefer to give students a final exam instead of a project. Spanish 2 and AP Spanish teacher Victoria O’Connor prefers a final exam, because of the structure of the AP Spanish class and the AP exam itself.

“I felt it was important to give students a simulated experience…prior to the [real AP exam],” said O’Connor, “In the case of the AP Spanish exam, a student can express [their] abilities in multiple, advanced grammar structures. [The exam is a] major focus of not only the AP curriculum, but…it is also a reflection of the student’s learning throughout [their educational] career.”