Well, there are interesting differences in expectations and reality, Lori.
I just learned that to see my final exam I have to go see the instructor next semester. They aren’t returned to students. That’s interesting.
As for showing an original thought, I’m not sure that’s the intent of any final exam in my experience so far. They seem to want people to show they know the material, not apply it in new ways.
But regardless, I think my point stands: no one writes like that in the real world anymore. You always have a keyboard, a spelling checker, and at least a bit of time to do some editing. Even if instructors discount formatting and spelling, editing is the very process of refining ideas so they are more clearly presented, stronger, and better. It’s the way you figure out if ideas are wrong (without dialog and/or criticism, anyway). Without editing time, it’s just a pile of poorly written sentences, cobbled together in 30 minutes. With editing, it can be a lot more.
Even those of us who write complicated emails about some topic for work don’t just dash it off. We have to compose and edit, making sure to hit the right points, make the needed arguments, and supply the supporting details. Yes, we all dash off 2 or 3 sentence emails all the time, but the longer ones need to be crafted, or they do no one any good. I think essay exam questions are like that. I’d rather have some time to think and edit. Instead I just get to dump a pile of sentences on paper and hope I have them ordered properly, that they support my argument, and so on.
As for take home essay tests being papers, I guess that’s right. So let’s get rid of the final exam and have an end of term paper that counts as some largish percentage of your grade. I’d be up for that instead.