Pro/Con: Optional Finals
February 1, 2019
Twice a year, students file into classrooms for the last time of the semester–finals week. The period leading up to such significant tests, which can cover eight months’ worth of material and be worth a fifth of the whole class grade, is known for causing serious stress among students in every class. But, some argue that finals actually do more help than harm. In our latest pro/con, the Globe examines the benefits and drawbacks that might come from making finals optional for students with a high enough grade in the class.
Final exams: easily the most stressful part of the semester for both high school and college students. They cause unnecessary anxiety for most students, and this stress could be relieved if finals were made optional for those who strive for success throughout the semester.
Many improvements could be made by making finals optional at CHS for those who already have an A in the class.
More time could be designated for studying other subjects, and students would be more motivated throughout the semester. Additionally, finals seem unnecessary at the end of the semester because students have already demonstrated a significant understanding of the subject.
Most finals are only worth a small percentage of your grade. Therefore, if a student already has an A in the class, it is nearly impossible for them to get to that next A+ level, but much more easy for them to lower to that A-, negatively affecting their GPA. This process and seemingly unfairness of finals are the main causes of students’ stress.
“I kind of fall into a spiral when I start taking my finals,” senior Eliza Copilevitz said. “It’s like my grade depends on it, and it’s going to affect my GPA which will affect what college I get in to. It’s frustrating because then when I have the test in front of me, that’s what I’m thinking about.”
Despite the insignificant amount that finals can truly impact your grade, Clayton students continue to worry. “Clayton students especially put so much pressure on themselves to succeed and do well on finals. It drives us to the point of not sleeping and not eating, and we develop unhealthy habits. We are willing to sacrifice ourselves for our grades,” Copilevitz said.
In addition to causing overwhelming amounts of stress, finals are unnecessary for students with a high grade in the class. This is because they have already demonstrated their knowledge of the subject. It wouldn’t be possible for students to achieve a good grade if they hadn’t worked tirelessly during the semester to make sure they succeeded on tests and other assignments.
“If you have a good grade in the class, then you have proved that you already know the material, and it makes sense that those students should not have to take the exams,” freshman Kellen Mottl said.
Making finals optional for students with a high grade in a class would also be beneficial because it would encourage students to work harder throughout the semester.
“I think that people would work harder if they knew that if they had a good grade then they wouldn’t have to take the exams, because I don’t think many people enjoy taking the tests,” Mottl said. “If there is an opportunity to not have to put themselves through all the stress, students would work harder.”
Without needing to study for finals in classes that they already excel in, students could focus on preparing for classes that they do struggle with.
“The benefit is that the kid can get prepared for another final more readily and they’ve already put in the work and they’ve earned it. They’ve earned the grade they’re supposed to get in that class,” Homer Turner, a counselor at CHS and someone who formerly worked at a school where finals were optional, said.
The possibility of being exempt from finals, again, would not only encourage students to work harder throughout the year, but would relieve the massive amounts of stress forced onto them at the end of the semester, ultimately improving their mental health.
“No, I’ve never seen it. I’ve never seen any drawbacks from [making finals optional],” Turner said. “It just gave students more time to get prepared for another class.”
Due to the clear understanding of the subject and relief of stress, students at CHS would most definitely benefit from the possibility of being exempt from finals if they work hard throughout the semester to obtain a good grade.
Kaia Mills-Lee is a sophomore at CHS and this is her second year on the Globe. Kaia joined the Globe staff because she hopes to improve her journalism skills. She also wishes to...
Finals are a burden that most students dread toward the end of the semester. They compile all the information that students have learned over the semester into one massive exam, which is not only unnecessary but stress-inducing.
Finals also tend to do very little for a student’s overall grade in a class. In fact, most of the time a final will either hurt a student’s grade or keep it the same. In order for a student to raise their grade by one or two percent, they must get a 100 percent or higher which is daunting and often impossible for most students.
Most believe finals should be optional. The structure would follow along these lines: If a student has a 90 percent or higher in a class they can choose whether or not to take the exam. If you have a 90 percent in a class, taking a final can be risky, due to the significant possibility of your grade dropping to a B, which is why the idea of students choosing to the exam seems logical.
But even though final exams may seem like a stress-inducing overflow of information, allowing students the choice of taking the final exam might make Clayton’s educational environment more competitive and unfair.
While final exams may seem like a burdensome waste of students’ time, there are a number of benefits to taking a final exam.
One of the main reasons public school districts, such as Clayton, require students to take final exams is to assess their ability to study and retain information.
A final exam teaches students to study for extended periods of time and apply or break study habits they have acquired over the course of their high school career. If a student does not take the final exam, they are missing out on a unique learning opportunity that will benefit them in the future.
Final exams are also very good preparation for the rigorous AP courses that are offered at Clayton High School. An AP exam, unlike a regular final exam, contains all the information students have learned over the course of the year, as opposed to just a semester.
The exams usually take most students about two to three hours to complete and are extremely difficult due to their cumulative nature. However, taking final exams as a freshman or sophomore can prepare you for the intensity of an AP exam.
Final exams prepare students for the difficult task of sitting still and testing for an extended period of time. They also help students with time management skills, which are essential in AP classes. Towards the weeks leading up to an AP exam, a student must begin to plan out the time they will spend studying for each individual class. This will allow students more time on subjects sections they struggle with while simply reviewing subjects they have a good grade in.
Ultimately, students will need to be able to be skilled at high-stakes testing as they continue in their academic careers. From the ACT to college finals, to maybe even someday having to sit for board or bar examinations, the future will be full of these decisive tests and we need to prepare Clayton students for them.
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