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Final exams create unnecessary stress

Antonio Diaz

by Marissa Ochoa

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As finals draw closer one question is on students’ minds the entire time: How much does the final exam count towards the class grade?

Students have experienced professors with different ideas as to what a final should actually entail. Some allow essay finals, multiple choice tests or group projects. No matter what is considered a final, one thing is certain: They always count for the majority of students’ overall grade. I’m not saying a final exam shouldn’t be administered, but cramming in a semester’s worth of information into one test and counting it for more than two-thirds of a student’s grade isn’t the best way to measure how much a student has learned. One test can’t possibly measure someone’s overall understanding of a subject. The fact that we’re aware of the consequences of failing a final puts an extreme amount of pressure on us. Why is there such an emphasis on one exam? Can’t professors evenly spread out their grading rubric?

I remember a particular class I had in which four exams were given during the semester, and each exam focused on a portion of the class. All of the tests were worth the same amount of points. By spreading out the exams and allowing each test to be worth the same, I was relieved of a lot of unnecessary stress. When finals arrived, I wasn’t worried about failing because there was no final that could disprove my grasp of the class. One key reason why I didn’t fail the class was also because I was engaged throughout the entire semester. It was portioned in quarters, which made it extremely easy for me to focus on one topic at a time. I never had to go through the process of overwhelming myself with an entire semester of information. If all classes followed in these footsteps, finals week wouldn’t be as daunting as it currently is.

When professors create final exams to be worth a huge portion of the grade, it doesn’t give any wiggle room for students to work on their grades. You wouldn’t expect to hit a home run on your first swing at the plate, so teachers shouldn’t expect the same from students. Although most classes do administer more than one exam, the final is always the make-or-break point. I don’t see why one test must count more than another. Why do classes have to end with a huge project or test? An exam that’s worth more won’t magically give students the ability to understand every concept taught on that subject. All it proves is that students are excellent at pulling all-nighters during times of high stress. Our generation isn’t incapable of hard work. However, hard work doesn’t equate to acing a 300-point exam.

Finals aren’t complete wastes of time, but the approach to what a final should accomplish is completely misconstrued. A final shouldn’t be looked at as the only thing standing in the way of a passing grade. A final should be treated as any other portion of the class, with no particular emphasis and no special week for said exams. The stereotype of finals week unfortunately rings all too familiar and needs to be changed. Is it that difficult to change the system? Numerous professors have done so—why can’t others follow in their footsteps? We need to reevaluate what a final is and if it benefits students’ learning abilities. Students take classes to immerse themselves in knowledge, not stress out about one exam. I know I’m not the only student dreading the upcoming week, and it’s unfortunate that the last week of our semester has to be spent worrying about one test. However, unless students voice their opinions on this subject, there will never be any relief from the overwhelmingly stressful final exams.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Final exams create unnecessary stress”

  1. Issa on December 11th, 2013 1:39 pm

    I don’t think a test should ever exceed 20% of a student’s grade. Performance tasks and projects have proven to be adequate measurements of student progress.

  2. Lauren on April 27th, 2016 11:54 am

    I do believe that these tests should be given, but only as a measurement of a student’s progress at the end or middle of a course. Some students can understand the material, but are not good test takers due to the unnecessary stress that is created by a test. A final is one test that many students stress over, so I do not think that they should be counted as a part of the student’s grade. They should, in my opinion, only be counted as a sort of survey to see how students understand the class material.

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