Ming DeMers/Sun Contributor

A view from above of students studying at Duffield Hall on March 17.

May 10, 2022

Goodbye Online Finals: Students Prepare for Their First In-Person Exams

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Cornellians are studying hard for the first fully in-person finals season since December 2019. For first-year and sophomore students, this means learning to balance both the end of the year social scene and the rigor of final exams for the first time.

Although final exams were originally expected to be in-person for the fall semester, an outbreak on Cornell’s campus led many professors to move exams online. This was followed by the University later issuing a statement that all finals would be moved online in the middle of exam week.

Joaquin Rivera ’25 was supposed to have two in-person final exams last semester, but one was moved online. Although he generally doesn’t feel more stressed by online exams, the sudden change in modality was difficult.

His twin brother Sebastian Rivera ’25 also had a final exam moved online. He felt more stressed for his online final compared to his in-person finals because he felt some professors make online exams harder due to the ability to use reference materials.

“They tried to test more of the obscure topics,” Sebastian Rivera said.

Despite finals returning to fully in-person this semester, both brothers described their workload as manageable. Sebastian Rivera said the key to this has been budgeting his time properly.

“I’m trying to set aside a certain amount of time every day to do work, and then let the rest of my day be free,” Sebastian Rivera said. “I’d rather have a good 3-4 hours and enjoy the rest of my day, than cram for the entire day.”

For other students, the return to in-person exams has made a once manageable workload feel a lot heavier. Maral Asik ’24 described how it has become a challenge for her to balance her social life with her academic responsibilities.

“The workload would feel manageable if I didn’t feel like I was balancing an increased social life on top of it,” Asik said. “As it stands, it’s pretty difficult.”

Compounding this social pressure is the return of Cornell’s Slope Day event, in-person for the first time since 2019. Kyle Goodman ’24 has scheduled his studying around being able to fully experience the event.

“I’m only making time for Slope Day,” Goodman said. “Any time I have not overlapping with Slope Day will have to be used for work.”

Joaquin Rivera is less concerned with balancing his social events. To him, the end-of-year crunch is just a part of being a student.

“Will I over stress about the exams? Probably,” he said. “But suffering for a couple of weeks under a lot of studying and a considerable amount of stress is a sacrifice I view worthwhile.”