By R. Brady
December. It’s a month when your breath crystallizes in the frigid air and the four layers of clothing you wear don’t seem to be sufficient against the cold. When holiday lights adorn festive houses, it’s as if stars have fallen from the night sky and into the illuminated streets below. December. It’s when Christmas carols invade every radio channel, house, and store. Sometime in this joyous month, however, the dreaded finals manage to slip their way onto the calendar. Though these stressful finals are now in the past, many wonder if this December may be a happier time if tests were out of the picture. From seeing a student’s abilities in the class to causing too much stress, there are both pros and cons for tests and finals.
Though the majority of students detest finals, they do have some positive qualities. With finals testing, teachers are able to evaluate students’ abilities at the end of each semester. They also provide a way to reinforce what was taught each semester. Repetition of the same material leads to better knowledge of the subject, especially in the long term.
However, there are plenty of reasons to be wary of cumulative tests. Students often get less sleep since they are staying up to study. Additionally, finals lead to lots of stress which is never healthy. Finally, it seems unfair that just one test can drastically affect the student’s final grade. Finals are a large percentage—usually 20%— of each class’s overall grade. If a student is especially stressed that day and forgets some of the material, it’s game over. I find it very harsh to judge a student’s abilities from one test or final. There have been plenty of times where I have stayed up late studying hard for a test, only to have the information jumble in my mind when anxiety sets in during the exam.
Though the argument is that they reinforce information, finals negatively affect student’s physical and emotional health, while also unfairly judging a student’s abilities on one test. Despite these negativities, I encourage students to leave the finals in the past and enjoy their winter break by catching up on sleep, relaxing during the day, and enjoying the holidays with family and friends.