I just gave the last exam of my last class of this semester. No more lecture prep, no more lectures, just a stack of grading that I have to finish by Friday (I do have one final exam to give, but it’s optional—the score they get on it replaces the lowest exam score of the term—and I expect only about a quarter of the class will bother to take it). I’m sure the students are even more relieved than I am at this point.

The end is in sight!


  1. TAW says

    Funny you should mention that. Just five minutes ago (literally) I realized today is wednesday and not tuesday, and that it was past 2pm. I literally jumped out my chair to look at the schedule when I realized that because I thought I was missing my bio exam. It turns out it starts at 3. whew.

  2. SJ says

    Lucky! I still have two huge whoppers of papers to write and a greensheet to rewrite . Another month to go then I’m free and clear.

    By the way, your blog is my absolute favorite non-psychology blog to read during the day

  3. gatoscuro says

    In an hour, I give my last final exam ever at this particular institution. Of course, I’ll have oodles more to give elsewhere starting next semester. Oh well.

  4. says

    My last lecture is tonight, and my TA will take care of the exam!!! Yea!!!

    (Oh, wait, I think I might have promised to teach a may term course … 6 hours a day for three weeks and no TA. Crap….)

  5. says

    I thought about doing that — having that final replace the lowest score, even if the final were lower still — since that would have cut down on my finals grading even more, but a) the students suffer enough during finals week, b) I hate to see the final exam become a Monte Hall problem, especially since the students who need the most help would find the probabilities bewildering, and c) sometimes I just want to be nice to my students (but don’t ever tell them that.)

  6. says

    You have TAs? Yet again, the Twin Cities branch campus flaunts their economic and staffing advantages over the elite Morris campus. My students will all feel the direct, personal touch of my red pen.

  7. says

    Good for you (and better for Greg with his TA). Out here in California, I still have another week of classes, followed by finals week! But I do have my last Ecology lab starting in 10 minutes, so yes, the end is getting nearer, and I can’t wait!

  8. says

    I am intrigued by this final exam method (in part because I hate grading finals). How many midterms do you give? And are you on semesters or quarters? I’m interested in stealing your approach, except I’m not sure how feasible it is on a quarter system.

  9. says

    Ah, just finished my own semester as well. And just to make you jealous, my professor has TWO TAs AND A GRADER! (There are 200 students in my electronic design class)

    For some reason, though, he still grades all the exams himself. I don’t think he wants anyone getting mad at the grad students if they screw something up.

  10. says

    We’re on semesters. They get 3 midterms, a couple of quizzes, and labs. The advantage to this system is that sometimes students just blow it on one exam, and it gives them a second chance to demonstrate competence.

  11. SaraA says

    I remember taking your optional genetics final. It was the only test in college that I didn’t study for during finals week, because I wanted to see how I would do by just “keeping up” in the class. I didn’t have anything to lose, because of how my points were before the final, but I had a lot of fun taking it with no pressure. :) Nerdy, I know. I seem to remember something about aliens and strange mating habits, but I could be making that up.

  12. says

    No, there was one with some Martian genetics. I also feel a little looser about the optional final and try to have some fun with it.

  13. gatoscuro says

    So I guess I shouldn’t mention that I have a TA for my course…and I’m a graduate student myself. If it matters at all, I won’t have a TA when I start work elsewhere; they don’t have graduate students.

  14. Kevinc says

    Just the Staph labs this week and reading the Staph labs next week for work (and cleaning all the test tubes, our old buildings plumbing can not handle a dishwasher). A presentation due for my ornithology class this Friday, finals for Environmental Science of the San Juan River and ornithology and a lab practical for ornithology next week. Then an 8 day float trip on the San Juan River with science projects the week after and then I graduate with my B. S. in environmental science. Almost done.

    Then get a job.

  15. Ken Mareld says

    Arrrgh, last exam, last class! You are so cruel to remind me.
    Today was the exact midpoint of the Quarter at Highline CC, in Burien, WA. I’m taking Microbiology. Fun but demanding. Gram stains, Serial dilutions, the genetics stuff starts next week. In today’s Photosynthesis lecture (a bit of Cell Bio review) I asked if Chloroplasts use other than visible light. Instructor responded ‘No, but if you figure out otherwise or why, there’s a PhD thesis in it’ I’m paraphrasing. I had to look it up. The best I could come up with is yeah, eukaryotes and prokaryotes (mostly) use visible light. Plus an infrared shift for purple bacteria. Too much energy on the UV side, not enough on the short side of the spectrum. Since we’re just talking Eukaryotes we also use that visible light spectrum in several ways. I thought that tied in nicely with Common Descent.

  16. mcmillan says

    I liked being in classes with a system like PZ where you can drop a low grade on an exam, like he says sometimes there was just a test just doesn’t go the way I thought it would. Actually a good system was for in my undergrad department’s intro bio course. Since finals have more time available than regular exams anyway, the first half was optional and just covered material since the last midterm. The second half was required and would involve old material and the kind of questions that tie different concepts together. It was good for allowing people to drop bad exams, but still tests everyone on big picture ideas and whether it clicks for them later on if they didn’t get it the first time.

  17. Anne-Marie says

    As and undergrad student in the middle of finals week, it is interesting to see the perspective from the other side of the podium, we don’t always think of the end of the semester as being a big relief for professors as well…and I wish that some of my classes had that grading policy!