Essay or Final?
Should you take the essay or final?
There is a deadline asking if you intend to take the final or write an essay instead. You cannot switch your decision after you tell us your choice. This is different than J7A, so please note that the decision is firm.
All students take Part A of the final exam (historical details) on the last day of class. It is 20% of the category grade. The remaining 80% is either the result of the final exam or, for those who elected to write an essay, the result or results on the essay grades. (In the case of the essay, the student submits once, receives a grade, and then can resubmit. If there is a resubmit, the two grades are averages. So the mix might be 20% Part A, 80% Essay grade OR 20% Part A, 40% first essay grade, 40% second essay grade.)
Below are some details, to help you decide whether you want to write an essay or take the final. However, you don't need to read the below if you don't want to bother. The upshot of the below is: You should, I think, elect the essay process if there is something you want to explore in this class and/or if you like writing essay more than taking tests and/or you don't want to stay for our final exam period. I think you will find I am open to interesting ideas for final essays or projects and that I don't punish risk-takers for trying out something interesting. However, if you tend to throw papers (or projects) together last minute you might find my expectations for carefully researched and thought-through essays to be not to your advantage gradewise. And, if you tend to seek the help of others you will score an "F" in my class. The essay process asks you to identify good sources and you will be asked how you used them, for their ideas, so keep this in mind, too. No one escapes my expectation of good analysis, done on your own, regardless of whether you write an essay or take the essay final.
Content issues. For both the final and essay I ask that you produce your own analysis. You cannot avoid analysis regardless of your choice. However, the essay requires outside research and the final does not. With the essay you have control of topic, with the final you do not.
Time issues. Both essay and final require considerable preparation time. While it varies from student to student, in general there is no time use differences between the essay and the final. Further, both are due at the same time. However, it is possible to complete the essay a little early. It is not possible to change the timing of the final exam: it is during our regularly scheduled time slot.
In both cases you do not know the final score result in time to discuss it with me before I submit final grades.
However, in the case of the essay it is possible for you to submit a completely completed version and receive a grade and, if that grade is satisfactory to you, you need not submit another version. You do, however, has a chance to resubmit and have the essay regraded. In that case your grade will be the average of the two grades. So, in the case of the final, you know nothing about the score result. In the case of the essay, you might know the score result or a score result that will represent 50% of the final score. Please note, though, that it is possible to score lower rather than higher on the second submission, if your mentor has asked you to do something that you did not do.
Academic dishonesty. If you are dishonest in the process of writing your essay you will receive, at minimum, an "F" for the essay, perhaps for the class, and you might even be reported to the University. If you are dishonest during the exam you will receive an "F" for the exam. However, in practical terms, many many more students have become entangled in dishonesty issues with essays than the final. If you typically get "help" of whatever type when writing your essays, and plan to do so in my case as well, you should take the final and avoid the "F".
Stress issues. The final is a 2.5 hour essay test. Some will consider the final more stressful, others will consider the essay more stressful. Some stress about whether they are being dishonest with the essay. This is one stress you can actually do something about: just ask me. I'll clarify. When in doubt, ask. It's that easy.