I think your friend's advice is not correct that not using JSF will get you fail. JSP/Servlet are also part of J2EE. In fact, JSP/Servlet can give more control on the solution being designed.
Go for it without fear. Don't change your design.
Exams often have silly requirements, and in fact often depend as much on what you don't know as what you do know. So the only real answer to that question is to check and see what the exam itself demands.
In the Real World, some people like JSF and some do not. Some of our most venerable Ranchers are very much in the servlet-and-jsp camp. On the other hand, I find it very useful. So much that I've hosted the JSF forum here on the Ranch for quite a long time now.
I'm sure at least one/some of the exams will specifically test you on JSF, simply because JSF is part of the JEE standard. But so are JSPs and servlets. So ultimately you need to be comfortable with both paradigms.
An IDE is no substitute for an Intelligent Developer.
I find myself with the same decisión; currently i'm developing a different assignment and I'm thinking in another possible solution without JSF or JSP.
I have a NFR which says that providing a strong visual feedback to end users is a great priority. And this application involves a kind of editor where users may be able to add components from a custom palette in a 2D or 3D environment.
So I'm thinking in develop the presentation layer using Angular 2 and REST services layer. I found several JS libraries which can accomodate this presentation requirements. Developing this applicacion on JSF could be possible but time consuming and using JSP will require JS either to implement any dinamic part.