Courtesy of Diana Flick
The last week of school is completely devoted to final exams, which means for students, the last week of school is when the frantic, last-minute study sessions commence. Finals create a lot of unwanted stress; the last week of school should be for relaxing after a hard year of work. But alas, we all have to suppress our excitement about the prospects of summer and focus on getting through one more round of pointless exams. Why are they pointless, you ask? Here’s why:
Students already have to take a number of standardized tests and AP exams that prove whether or not they know the material. Taking yet another test is unnecessarily redundant.
Throughout the entire school year, students have to take countless numbers of unit tests and benchmarks to assess their level of understanding on the topics covered. This means that students’ progress is being tracked and evaluated over the course of the whole year. Therefore, taking a cumulative exam at the end of the year doesn’t really tell the teacher anything that they don’t already know about the students’ abilities. If someone has been getting an A the entire year, haven’t they proven that they understand the material?
Typically, a student who has been getting A’s or B’s the entire year will perform well on the final exam. It is likely that they understand and remember a lot from the entire year, and they have a really good work ethic. Likewise, if someone has been getting a 30% in the class, they probably won’t do too well on the final. They can’t just magically learn a year’s-worth of material in one week. This is just further evidence that finals reflect how the students have been doing all year, which just gives teachers information that they already know.
By the time students receive their report cards in the summer, they can only look at their finalized grade and move on. They have no way of looking back at their exam to see what they got wrong. One of the best ways to learn is to learn from one’s mistakes, and final exams prohibit that. What’s the point of them if we can’t even learn something from them?
In my experience, when people cram for finals, they learn just enough to pass the test, but then forget everything they’ve learned afterwards. Students only focus on passing the test, not learning the material. This completely defeats the purpose of school, which is to fully understand and expand your knowledge about a specific topic.
Finally, the last reason why finals are unnecessary is because they are unfair. It’s the age-old dilemma: some people don’t perform well in high pressure environments, such as exams. A student could be very intelligent and a hard worker, but they might be bad at taking tests. The test is therefore unfair, because it may not accurately portray a student’s full abilities.
Instead of having finals, teachers should give students real-life problems where they would have to apply what they learned. This would give students a creative, realistic way of using their knowledge from the class. One of the most asked questions I hear in school is “Why do we have to learn this?” Having real-life scenarios give students a deeper understanding of what they learned, because it simulates an actual problem that they might face in the future.