Finals. They are the most dreaded exams for all students. As a barrier between the stress of the school year and the freedom of summer, they are an obstacle that must be overcome to finally put academics to the side. How could any student possibly advocate for their continuation? It’s possible… and I’m going to show you how.
To some, finals are unnecessary, stress-inducing tests that end up spoiling the final weeks of school. This argument does have some merit as there is much anxiety involved with all the studying that needs to take place to ensure that students are well prepared. By effectively organizing your time, however, and consistently having good study habits throughout the school year, the stress should not be overwhelming.
Students know the date and content of their final exam from the very first week of school. Essentially, you are studying for your final every single class. By completing homework, revising for quizzes and tests, and seeking help when necessary, you are setting yourself up for success at the end of the year. Knowing that a cumulative test is approaching makes students more engaged during class and keeps them motivated throughout the year. Additionally, continuously reviewing past topics on random weekends will leave very little to be done right before the final, easing the stress of the situation.
It’s understandable that studying for a test for weeks on end isn’t realistic. The 40 available weeks for studying for finals shrink to 20 weeks and then to 10 and then to 1 and then…. It’s test day. And while I may not be able to convince you to completely change your study habits so finals aren’t as stressful, I can show you why finals are essential and convince you that some of the stress is worth it.
First, finals help teachers. They are a way of displaying what the student has learned throughout the year. Although a final does not necessarily signify the amount of work and effort that one puts into a certain class, it shows how much information was retained. Teachers should go into final exams with a holistic approach, meaning that the final should not ‘make or break’ a student’s grade, but act as a supplementary resource in determining the overall grade. The final shows a teacher how much you’ve learned and highlights areas for growth that the instructor might want to focus on with the next group of students.
Second, finals help students. Many subjects, including math and science, are continuous, meaning you are always building on what you’ve learned in the past. We still use the addition and multiplication rules that we learned in the second grade today, and this pattern continues in high school. Without finals, the last time that students would encounter topics would be when they were first taught. So, when the subject is reintroduced in the next school year, it would take much longer for the students to recall the nuances, essentially wasting valuable learning time.
However, if the contents were reviewed for a final at the end of May, the topic will remain fresh in students’ minds. Some information will be lost over summer break, which is why summer homework is essential too. By taking a final, you’ll be doing yourself a favor and saving time for next year.
Finals should not be used as punishment for students and as long as students view them as such, the stress and anxiety associated with finals week will not improve. On a small scale, finals are dreadful, but when considering the big picture, they help you retain essential knowledge that can be used in high school, college, and beyond. So, when starting your cumulative tests, remember that these exams are for your own benefit. Similar to eating vegetables, they may not be fun in the moment, but you’ll be grateful in the future!