A Final Nightmare
It’s the end of week nine. The leaves are gone and the cold is here to stay. The sun will not appear for another six months. We all know what time it is. Finals! Campus stress levels will soon skyrocket. The 1902 Room will smell of sleeplessness and fear. The stacks will become an eight-story panic room. Freshman will use their notes as tissues. But are finals really that bad? We may be bumped and bruised, but we make it through them time and time again. We Yik Yak and Snapchat our woes, but we make finals much worse than they are. Inspired by Dave Doyle’s “Ultimate Final Exam,” this is what we make our finals out to be like when we’re worrying.
Art History: Explain why this test itself is art and cite which movement(s) it belongs to. Write your essay as a Pollock drip painting. Additionally, go to the MoMA and convince a surly grandfather that his four-year-old grandniece could NOT have made that painting.
Biology: Cure cancer. You only have a scalpel, a Band-Aid and some DayQuil.
Chemistry: Discover a new element. We have provided a Bunsen burner and a rack of test tubes. Define its atomic weight, electron configuration and molar heat capacity. Then turn it into gold.
Chinese: Build a greater wall. Your instructions are in Old Mandarin.
Classics: Write an epic poem in Greek about your childhood. Dactylic hexameter required. The last two to finish will fight to the death as gladiators.
Comparative Literature: Compare all of literature.
Computer Science: While this test buffers, fix GreenPrint and permanently update Java using Python, all while battling a hungry python.
Economics: Sell your soul.
Education: Describe the irony of this exam. Define the inadequacies of each multiple-choice question. Rewrite your own improved exam, and distribute it to the class. Then take each other’s tests. Mark their inadequacies.
English: Is the pen mightier than the sword? Under your seat you will find the bloodthirsty Grendel from Beowulf. Defeat him using Derridean hermeneutics.
Environmental Science: This test is written on paper. Only No. 2 pencils are acceptable.
Fifteen trees were slaughtered for these exams. Are you just gonna take it, or are you gonna do somethin’ about it?
Ethics: Cheat on this test. Phones must be used during bathroom breaks. Remember the honor principle.
Film: Reshoot “Interstellar” (2014) using only your iPhone, but make it into an anime western musical. Include specific allusions to “Citizen Kane” (1941) and “Breathless” (1960). Statler and Waldorf will be your critics.
Geography: Using geoinformatics, locate Amelia Earhart, the Holy Grail and the Wild Things — bonus points if you find where to get a good bagel in town.
Government: Return with Donald Trump’s hair on a skewer.
History: Trace the growth of civilization through time, beginning with the Olmecs in 1600 B.C. and ending in modern day. Include references to at least 40 empires. You may bring one index card with notes.
Linguistics: An alien race has arrived on Earth. They only speak in glottal stops. Learn their language and prevent them from destroying the planet. UH uh uh UH UH. That means, “you have one hour” in their language. They sound angry.
Math: Find x and y. Then find my ex and ask her why she left her cookbooks here. No one wants “Gluten Free Felines” or “To Kale a Mockingbird,” Karen!
Music: While wearing noise-cancelling headphones, play Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto (1909). Remember, the wrong keys are electrified.
Neuroscience: Place a patient in an fMRI. Force them to watch a GOP debate. Endure their screams and agony as you try to chart their brain activation. Describe the deterioration of the frontal lobe.
Philosophy: Can proof be found in pudding, or anywhere for that matter? Can truth set you free? If so, what is truth? Verify. Then falsify. Use epistemological solipsism to question the existence of this test. Yes, you still must take it.
Physics: A car of mass 40kg travelling at 3m/s collides with a truck of mass 60kg travelling at 2m/s. This is just a metaphor. What existed before the Big Bang? Use specific evidence.
Psychology: Read the mind of the person to your right. Write down their thoughts as Rorschach inkblots. To submit, traverse the rat maze at the front of the class. You will be timed. Hurry you rodents!
Religion: Each student must invent a religion that centers around themselves as a god. Pair up. Convert your partner. Do not be converted. Holy wars and divine interventions are fair game.
Sociology: Using what you know from this course, transform Dartmouth into a utopia. Novack and the D-Plan cannot change.
Women and Gender Studies: Take down the entire patriarchy. Dismantle all oppression. Reclaim the word “b****.” Then rewrite a famous literary work from a feminist perspective. Previous examples have included:
“A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman”
“Moby_____; or, The Whale”
“I Spy: The Male Gaze in Pictures”
Extra Credit: Recommend your professor for tenure.