Finals at the University of Cape Town (UCT) are not too different than finals in the United States, format wise. For one of my classes, the final was in a computer lab and proctored. For two of my other classes, the final was written and in-person. Another class, the one offered by IES, did not have a final. Instead, there was a symposium in which we all had to participate in (I’ll talk more about this in detail later on in this post). All in all, the format of finals for me were not an issue.
On the other hand, I would have to say the main difference between finals in the United States versus finals in Cape Town is that we have such a huge gap in between the last day of classes and when our finals actually start. In my case, we technically finished classes May 15th. Yet my first final was May 24th. At my home University, I am used to taking finals the Monday after classes finish, being done that same week, and going home that weekend. However, for me, finals lasted two weeks. I am not a huge fan of this, mainly because I get anxious and regardless of where I am at for school, I am ready for the school year to end ASAP.
Another big difference is how much finals are weighted. In one of my classes, Business Law 1, my final was 75% of my grade (yes, this percentage intimidated the heck out of me). In another class, Crime and Deviance in South African Cities, my final was 60% of my grade. I am used to my final being worth 30% of my grade, which is not a huge part of your grade if you think about. Yet in Cape Town, it was the total opposite, with finals being majority (basically all) of your grade. Nevertheless, the important thing is that I got through finals, which is always stressful for me – and I did!
As I stated earlier, for one of my classes, Community Development in Context, we did not have a traditional final. Instead, we had to write a 7,500 word paper on a topic related to our volunteer site, as well as create a presentation based off of our research paper. This was in preparation for a symposium that was held May 17th. The symposium consistent of all students enrolled in Community Development in Context as well as Community Health in Context.
I wrote about the intersectionality between gangsterism and community development (i.e. – how does community development hinder, fuel, and, overall, impact gang activity). I enjoyed writing the paper and doing the presentation, as I come from an urban area where gangsterism is essentially an epidemic. Other topics covered at the symposium includes how language can be a barrier for someone who is receiving an education; HIV and the LGTBQ+ community; and life in a township (a very low-income neighborhood).
Finals at UCT was a bit rough. However, with UCT being the #1 school in Africa, I have no reason to be surprised!