Finals help students learn

by Sam Greene, Staff Writer

As a junior in high school, I, along with many of my peers, dread finals week. The incredible stress I feel when preparing for my exams seems overwhelming at times. However, it is important to remember that finals have been instituted for reasons other than to torture students. Students commonly argue that midterms and finals should be abolished. But, there are some very real advantages to taking these tests.

Some people disagree with assessing via finals because they believe students are just memorizing facts for a test and leave the class without solidifying their knowledge. However, the truth is that final exams promote retention of what students have learned all year. Long-term learning, which is learning with the objective of knowing information in the future, is the whole point of taking educational classes. Preparing for final exams can enhance this, because students recognize the need to understand the information.

Another important aspect of final exams is that they help prepare high school students for college. All colleges have final exams for students, most of which are much more difficult than the ones we face in high school. If you can find out your most effective study habits now, chances are you will do much better in college.

This also proves why midterms are effective. Midterms mark the end of the first semester, and they mirror the college experience. Most universities have two semesters per year, with finals for each class at the end. Students should become accustomed to studying for two major tests during an academic year before going to college.

Additionally, it is unrealistic to try to end tests completely, because without midterms and finals, classes would need to have non-cumulative unit test exams much more often. This could even become quarterly exams, which are ineffective. One study tested the effectiveness of cumulative exams, and found that they increased short-term and long-term retention. More tests throughout the year would mean less knowledge gained by students.

Perhaps instead of discussing completely ending final exams, we should offer courses on the best ways to study for these exams. The problem with exams may not be the tests themselves, but how students are preparing. Cramming is incredibly ineffective, and procrastination is a major source of the stress. Trying to learn all of the information the night before a major test completely defeats the purpose of final exams, which is to solidify everything you have learned throughout the year.

Although students are often told not to cram for tests, they rarely listen. If high schools provided actual courses based on the most effective ways to study, students would be forced to learn and understand this.

According to the Princeton Review, the first thing to do when studying for finals is make a game plan. Create a schedule for yourself, and try your best to stick to it. Start studying early, at least a few weeks before the first exam. You should study for the most difficult tests first, and begin by studying topics that will definitely be on it, then ones that probably are, followed by topics that have the smallest chance of being featured.

It is also important to get creative with study habits. Create study groups, quiz yourself, watch videos, and figure out your overall best way of retaining information. Adequate amounts of breaks, sleep, and brain food also contribute to your success.

Although it may be the unpopular opinion to voice support for midterm and final exams, the truth is that they make for better learning. High school is four years of education, so we might as well try to remember it for the future.