Are Finals Really Necessary?


Staff Writer Sam Galanopoulos

By Sam Galanopoulos, Staff Writer

That’s the question that gets asked very often around this time of the school year. Over a span of just three days, students take nearly-two-hour long tests for each of their classes, and 20 percent of their grade depends exclusively on their performance on that one test. After working for months to build up good grades in their various classes, it doesn’t seem fair that one test on a winter morning should hold so much influence over the grade that is supposed to represent the entire semester.

For many, finals are seen as an annoying, dreaded experience that students are forced to partake in. There are others who feel finals do not have much of an effect on their grades and are reflective to see their level of performance. In my opinion, finals should not be required assessments after an entire semester of class. Here’s why.

Finals are unnecessary because, throughout the semester, students are continuously getting tested through quizzes and unit tests. Classes divide into units, requiring tests and quizzes during each period of that specific unit. Taking a final is repeating that step, just on a longer test compiled from this same information. Aside from the fact that the test is too long, taking the final at the end of the semesters puts one at risk of not remembering the content from the first couple months of school.

Aside from reciting class material, finals are very inconvenient to many. Finals occur right before two major breaks: winter break and summer vacation. The time of day of finals is also considered inconvenient because each subject has a specific time slot during which the final takes place. Not only does this require students to come to school on irregular schedules, but they are also often spending multiple hours stranded at school in between tests due to the lack of consistent transportation.

This could mean taking a test from 8:00 to 9:30, then having to wait until 12:15 p.m. before the next test begins. The only options if you don’t have the ability to leave and come back are to stay in the incredibly loud cafeteria for three hours, or in the IRC, where anything other than absolute silence is prohibited. Another point to mention is that no food is served on finals days, so students who do have to wait long periods between tests have to worry about that as well.

As a possible solution to this problem, Niles West could change the process that has been implemented for years; West could begin giving midterm exams during each semester to split the final in half. This will allow the students to remember more of what they learned and essentially split the time length of the test in half. In addition, this system would mean the tests could be administered on a regular school day schedule. Having the test be cut into two different parts could open up class days to take the test and allow more days of break for students after a strenuous semester.

Finals are often what make or break final grades and even the confidence of many students. Although it would be difficult to change the curriculum, I don’t feel that it is too much to ask for. In the end, I’d much rather feel confident and prepared going into a test that hoping that I remember every fact I learned since mid-August. The more chances students get, the better we are able to succeed.