Finals do not accurately represent students’ knowledge

Final exams are not good at showing what a student has learned over the school year

Final tests, which can be worth upwards of 10% of students’ grades, cause stress and anxiety towards the end of the school year for every student. As colleges phase out standardized testing and adapt to being test blind, it is time to evaluate how effective finals are.

These tests usually require students to remember content from the beginning of the school year to lessons from the previous week, all of which has been spaced out and tested in smaller units. Finals change the previous content pacing, and this change is not fair to students who have become accustomed to the pacing of the course.

Finals also do not accurately reflect the student’s strength in the subject, since they may have done well in the past testing of the units by focusing on and studying a specific topic.

Students who struggle with test taking also need to be thought of when considering whether these large tests are a good reflection of their skills. Testing is more difficult for those struggling with test anxiety and other conditions impairing their focus.

Besides the overwhelming amount of stress that tests worth a large portion of a student’s overall grade in a class causes, these tests do not accurately reflect the learning that students have done during the course of a school year. Some students do not test well, and so having one specific test play such a large role in a course’s outcome for the students is not factoring in these challenges that students face.

“I think [finals] reflects more of your test taking abilities and the way you’re able to manage stress that last week, because you are studying for eight finals in a week,” sophomore Sofia Scartascini said. “I stay up studying very late when studying, so my anxiety and depression rise to a new level.”

While some may argue finals are needed for a significant portion of a student’s grade, other options pose a better solution. Final projects allow for students to put in effort and relearn material from the previous units, much like final tests, while taking some of the extreme pressure of testing off of students’ minds.

In the last stretch of the school year, students are trying their best to work through until the last day. Finals are a strain on student mental health, since this time is already a time where students are in a more fragile state mentally and emotionally. Tests should evaluate us when we are at a good place in the school year, not at one of our lows.

Administration should assess the consequences of final tests and what they truly show of student growth and learning. Instead of using stressful and ineffective finals to account for a significant portion of a student’s grade, they should replace them with alternative assignments which allow students to review the material and present it in a creative fashion, rather than subject students to emotionally draining, unrepresentative exams.