by Joie Liu
May 6, 2020
Scheduled to be from June 1 through June 5, final exams have lingered in the back of many students’ minds since the beginning of the spring semester. However, because of the implementation of the new Zoom-based learning system in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the question of whether final exams should still occur is being considered. I believe that final exams should be cancelled or lessened this year. COVID-19 has affected everyone in different ways, with some feeling the impact of the virus to a greater extent than others. The pandemic has caused a heightened amount of stress for many families, and students do not need the added anxiety that final exams inevitably bring. BUA students are known for pushing themselves above and beyond; therefore, I believe that despite the final exams not having the ability to lower grades, in accordance with the recently enacted grading policy for the spring of 2020, students will push themselves to study and do well. In addition to the stress that exams produce, online exams are fraught with the possibility of academic dishonesty. Although most BUA students will not take advantage of the new system, it is likely that a number of students will view the online assessments as an opportunity to cheat.
Final exams should not occur this year, for students are contending with high levels of stress, and online tests cannot be proctored. If BUA decides that it is necessary to administer final exams to test students’ knowledge of class material, one alternative that reduces both stress and the difficulties associated with conducting exams in remote learning is a system that some teachers have already been using. In the past two months, teachers have been experimenting with different methods of testing. An approach that has been widely used is open-book testing with a time limit. These exams typically take place on Blackboard, where many teachers use the built-in timer function. I have found that this system is one of the best ways to administer exams online, with the timer function preventing an excess of cheating or checking notes but open notebooks available as a last resort. I believe that this method of conducting tests is the best alternative to typical exams, especially as the open-book aspect lowers the stress and anxiety of frantic studying and provides an opportunity for teachers to gain a sense of the knowledge that a student has accumulated throughout the school year.