We shouldn’t have finals


Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

by Jared Brassil, Staff Writer

Finals can be the most stressful, chaotic, and worrisome time in a high school student’s career.  All the pressure of the previous marking periods culminates to one, final, two-hour test. But why is this test necessary?  

Finals are an outdated test that just causes students stress and puts pressure on students to try to get a good grade on the test, because of how much pressure that is put on Finals.

I would know, as I currently have 5 finals that I have to prepare for.

Throughout the course of each semester, students always prove their ability to comprehend each lesson.  However, what researchers and educators have found is that students often forget material they have memorized for the test once it has concluded

The key to remembering material and recalling it is converting it to long-term memory.  Long-term memory comprises information that you know and can recall, and facts that can be accessed for a long time.  However, lectures and work are often hard to convert to long term memory. Without reviewing the material, it will be forgotten and that the best time to review the material is a day or two after the material has been presented.

This is because education is now centered around tests.  Tests have become the focus point of high school life. Personally, my schedule is centered around tests.  I find all of my time is spent preparing for the next test in each class.

I live from test to test.

During school what I do is prepare for the upcoming test, nights are spent studying for the next test.  Then once I take the test, I no longer focus on the previous material and shift to the next material, the next test.  This process leads to material being forgotten, only to try to remember days before a final cumulative exam.

Especially at the high school and college level, where classes are often lecture-based.  A study done to assess recall on a lecture, 90% of the points made were forgotten in 14 days.

Lectures are difficult to study for because students are not able to stop, think, and go over the notes in class.  It is proven that the best way to study for a quiz is through steady and consistent re-reading.

If you wait to review the information till the night before the test (let’s say after 28 days), you will have forgotten 81% of the material and will have to study a lot longer to be sufficiently prepared for the test.” said Meg Keely, Special Populations Office at Bucks County Community College.

Despite our test-heavy school society, higher education organizations have started to make changes towards tests and overall graded materials.  

At Harvard University, only 23% of the undergraduate classes had final exams in 2010.  Educator Jon Orech says that the idea of final exams does not align with the current school trends that focus around the student, project based learning, or collaborative learning. 

Another major problem with finals is that many students will wait until days before the test to start studying.  This creates a feeling of stress and fear.   David Jaffee, professor of sociology at University of North Florida, says that studying means “cramming”. 

The idea of cramming is becoming more and more prevalent in school, students waiting till the last possible night to study for the test.   This causes not only an incomplete showing of a students academic capability, but an increase of stress put on the student.

While some would say the easy way to avoid this is to try to plan out studying nights before the test, however, speaking from experience even if you try to plan in advance nightly homework and tons of work get in the way of studying the night or two nights before the test.

The debate over finals brings to mind one overall question.

Why do students need to prove how well they have learned the material, even though they have already taken a test?