Final Exams Need Reform


Alex Gonzales

Changes Are Needed To Finals At Campo

As the year comes to a close, Campo students are tirelessly working to study for finals, putting in extra hours to maintain grades, and the stress on campus seems even more palpable than ever. Walking the halls, there is a sense of tiredness that lingers with every student, especially juniors and seniors with Advanced Placement (AP) exams. I, for 1, like many other students after taking 4 exams and the SAT in the span of 2 weeks, am having significant issues with simply being alert in class. Even after many classes’ curriculums have ended, teachers are still assigning long term projects that will last until the end of finals week.This begs the question, is it time for more systemic change to how Campo tackles the end of the school year? Is it time to abolish finals once and for all?

It’s clear that the current system is unsustainable and must change, with many students at the brink due to being overworked. During the spring semester, many classes ask that students learn 8 months of material in a span of weeks, as some classes’ final exams are cumulative over an entire year. Furthermore, because students take 6 or 7 classes, this becomes an even more daunting task, with students cramming for hours on end just to get a basic understanding of the material needed to take the exam.

In my experience during my last 3 years at Campo, it oftentimes seems that the cumulative finals are very arbitrary. Many classes are stand alone and do not require full indepth review of all material. For AP classes, in which the AP test covers an entire year of studied material, it should be a student’s 1 prerogative to study for an exam. The effect of these exams are minimal, as many colleges only accept 5’s or, if on a quarter system, exempt students from almost no class time. The only people affected by students that do not study for AP’s are the students themselves.

Cumulative finals also do not encourage students to retain information learned throughout the entire year. It is common knowledge that information crammed after an exam quickly dissipates, leaving students especially hurt when classes build up on eachother (for instance, algebra 2 to precalculus).

The idea that 1 test should be worth 10-15% of one’s grade also seems silly. Students are in school for around 90 days each semester, and everyday they do a variety of work. If one is having a bad day and completely bombs a final, it doesnt make any sense that a student’s grade should drop an entire letter grade, a consequence that could affect them in future endeavors like college. 14 to 18-year-olds are still incredibly young and should not have this high a level of responsibility.

There are a plethora of solutions that could be implemented to replace the system we have. Teachers could assign projects instead of assessments that encourage self-driven research and passion extending knowledge about a topic. If students enjoy what they learn, they will actually remember the content of the course better and maybe pursue the study later in life. Teachers could opt to administer a smaller unit test that still assesses knowledge, but also does not burden students with endless content. They could also simply allow students to have down time and do what they please as a reward for their hard work throughout the year.

In all, students must advocate for themselves and push for more humane conditions regarding finals and end of school madness. We must start talking to teachers about our concerns and wishes, so they can hear what students are dealing with. We need to listen to new ideas, have an open mind when hearing out different solutions to this problem, and we must take charge of our own academic destiny, fighting for what’s right.