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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Students prepare to take on online finals

Online+Finals
Photos by Aiden Shertzer
Online Finals

As the conclusion of an unconventional fall semester rapidly approaches, students are preparing for a new round of online final exams.
Texas A&M announced prior to the fall semester that final exams will remain online as they did during the spring after COVID-19 hit, despite some classes currently offering face-to-face instruction. Online finals have become standard for classes during the pandemic, but virtual learning has posed both hindrances and conveniences for students.
Political science junior Jackson Minick said he prefers in-person exams due to concerns about online proctoring software, which many professors have implemented to ensure students aren’t allured to cheat.
“The use of proctoring software such as Honorlock or Respondus in my use has been nothing short of a headache,” Minick said. “Both Honorlock and Respondus refuse to cooperate with the browser I use in order to block any ads, trackers or cross-site cookies that sites may use, and those two services will only work with Google Chrome in my experience.”
Minick said student surveillance during exams creates unnecessary anxiety for test takers, especially on top of the stress a student may already be experiencing due to the high-stakes nature of semester exams. The collection of data by proctoring software is something Minick said he worries about.
“I have a lot of concern regarding the data that is collected from these programs and whether the university has done anything to ensure the privacy of students who are essentially being surveilled for the hour or so as they take their exams,” Minick said. “Your moves [during testing] both in-person and in-browser are being tracked and collected, and a small and seemingly innocuous movement such as looking upwards to think can trip these automated safeguards and create much more anxiety than is needed.”
History freshman Joshua Zimmerman said he prefers the online format for his first round of collegiate finals.
“I think I prefer online finals just so I can go home,” Zimmerman said. “Of course, I am a freshman, so I believe that the newness of the experience may be a driving force behind that.”
Psychology junior Maryem Shirzadi said online exams provide students opportunities to excel who may be uncomfortable in traditional exam settings, which can affect their exam performance and subsequent grade.
“I think taking finals online provides a safety net for students,” Shirzadi said. “There’s so much stress on students when taking exams, especially finals, and being in a room full of hundreds of other people tends to add to that stress.
“Being able to take a final online relieves a lot of that stress. In a way, everything is the way that I want it in a good, regulated environment. I am able to take the exam at my desk, which is where I study for the exam, so that helps me get in the zone.”
Though the online format differs from what students were accustomed to, Shirzadi said flexibility with personal exam-taking situations is a relief, especially when trying to learn during COVID-19.
“A lot of professors have given options for students to take exams over a week or 24-hour span, so if an 8 a.m. student has the option to take the test at night instead of early in the morning when they’re exhausted, it’s really beneficial,” Shirzadi said. “I think A&M should continue to offer the option of online exams, because many need that option so they have an environment to perform as best as they can.”

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