Although final exams are stressful, and so many at one time can leave students up at midnight trying to cram for multiple tests, these exams do serve a purpose, ultimately beneficial to teachers and students. Final exams should continue to be utilized in a school setting.
The first reason final exams are beneficial is that they keep students emotionally invested in the class and the class material up until the last day. At the end of the year, students begin to experience senioritis as the days get warmer and the classrooms get stuffier. Mostly everyone is ready for school to be over. The initial response to these feelings would be to stop trying so hard in classes, put the homework off, and study minimally for those last final quizzes. However, with a final exam to worry about, students can’t give in to these desires until after this huge test. This means students will pay attention to the final material covered in class, rather than doing the bare minimum required to pass and not comprehending new concepts or memorizing new facts.
Secondly, final exams, accounting for 10 percent of your final grade, give students who are behind a chance to catch up and keep students who are ahead aware of the fact that doing well on one test doesn’t secure their grade.
The most important reason that final exams are given in classes is to ensure that students remember the material covered by the entire course well into their futures. Final exams are cumulative, and cover material taught throughout the second semester. If the purpose of school is to give students valuable knowledge that they can utilize throughout their lives, it is important to make sure they will remember these skills throughout their lives, rather than for a week after a test is given. The final makes sure that students recall material from the beginning of the course at the end of the course, and hopefully far into the future.
Some people argue that final exams don’t provide an accurate test of student knowledge, or that they don’t prepare students for the real world, where they’ll be able to refer to manuals and ask questions. This argument, however, is invalid. The tests don’t need to test student knowledge as well as they give a good idea of what students need to know. The studying and reviewing of material is the most important part of the process; the grade itself isn’t the most important result. As for preparing students for real life, although it is true that knowledge in our world is becoming increasingly more accessible through the internet and television, somebody who readily knows things off the top of his head will be more efficient than somebody who is constantly asking questions and looking things up.
Ultimately, finals are beneficial when utilized the right way. Accounting Professor Joe Hoyle of Richmond, Virginia has his own procedure for selecting questions. “I line up all the topics for the entire semester on a sheet of paper and pick one pretty much at random,” Hoyle said. “I then ask myself-if one of my students is at a job in six-months and this topic is raised, what should I expect an A student to be able to remember after five minutes of review?” This method ensures the questions asked are relevant, and the degree of intensity is reasonable. The material on finals should be material that is useful and will be needed.
Because finals keep students invested in classes, test the cumulative knowledge that students may need to utilize in the future and keep grades dynamic. They benefit teachers and students and are an effective way of finishing the school year.
Alex Houdeshell, Staff Writer
Alex Houdeshell is a staff writer for the 2014-2015 Colonel. She is the Design Editor of Ledyard’s Horizons Yearbook, plays JV soccer, runs distance in indoor and outdoor track, and is President of Operation Smile.
Taking final exams is like celebrating Groundhog Day. It’s supposed to give people meaningful information, but it doesn’t. People make a big deal out of it anyway. The groundhog sees its shadow, spring comes early. If not, it’s six more weeks of winter. Who cares? Who remembers? Finals are the same way. Grades have closed, report cards have been printed, and teachers and students alike have moved on.
In my opinion, if a student has demonstrated their knowledge in writing assignments over the course of a year, sprinkled in with a few reading quizzes to show that a student “got” “Fahrenheit 451”, finals aren’t a must like they’ve been in past years. Teachers don’t need to make up a chunky test packet of fifty multiple choice questions with a 45 minute essay prompt. These days, the summer time occupies half of everyone’s brains, a generous quarter is devoted to senioritis, and another quarter is left for whatever else teenagers think about. There’s virtually no room available for students to re-learn why Archduke Ferdinand was important to World War I or how to graph a parabola in vertex form.
Outspoken opposers of tossing the final exam in the trash can make the point that final exams are supposed to prepare you for the real world, aka college. However, students at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts are noticing a significant decline in professors handing out final exams “for the more than 500 graduate-level courses offered, just 14 had finals” (It’s Harvard, people! Quite possibly one of the most prestigious universities in the world are saying bye bye to finals, yet you in cowtown have to take eight!). Speaking of the real world, in what profession would you ever have to sit down and take a multiple choice test for an extended amount of time? Sure, there are teacher and workplace evaluations and metaphorical “tests” to make sure you’re doing your job right, but I can’t think of an instance where a boss would walk into a cubicle and hand over a packet of questions to be completed in two hours.
Dear teachers: it’s time to let final exams hibernate in their little unsaved Word documents, and, preferably, never see their shadow again.
Leah Sheltry, Features Editor
Junior Leah Sheltry is Features Editor for the 2014-2015 Colonel. She is Vice President of YUGA club and is on the swim team.