Why are Finals the Final Days of Senior Year?

By Nadia Firozabadi, Staff Writer

As senior year is coming to an end, students are preparing for finals, finishing up AP exams, and stressing about their grades instead of enjoying their last weeks of high school. Senior year is the most stressful year of high school by far. You start the year figuring out what colleges you want to apply to, write endless essays for your applications, figure out logistics for letters of recommendation, and then tirelessly wait for a decision that is now out of your hands. It is an emotional and stressful year that students were not really prepared for, but the end of the year at Niles West just adds pressure on seniors instead of easing it.

Niles West very recently adopted a new finals schedule which follows a format of exams by class periods. This format is not a good idea because now students are taking finals in classes like physical education during finals week instead of doing it in class. Not only is the format of finals exams out of shape, but also the qualifications for seniors to mandatorily take finals.

At Niles West, all seniors have to take their designated finals regardless of their standing in that class or if they have already taken the AP exam. Many AP classes count the mock AP exam score as your final score. Counting mock scores as your final score is also unproductive because it makes students worry about the practice test instead of the AP exam itself. Mock exams should be solely for students to get practice and to get feedback after the test to better prepare them for the AP exam. Making the mock the final makes it very hard for students to know their mistakes and go into the AP exam with too much or too little confidence.

For non-seniors taking AP exams, there shouldn’t be a final exam, there should be final projects. This is not only more interactive, fun, and educational, but it prepares you more for the AP exam than taking a test will. Student’s study for exams traditionally by making flashcards, going over notes, and completing study guides. If teachers made students do their own research, make their own study resources, and let the kids guide their learning it will keep them more engaged in the content and know the material better.

When it comes to traditional classes, seniors should not be required to take the final. It should be the student’s choice if they want to take the final and risk the possibility of bettering or worsening their grade. Local schools in our area adopt a special system for seniors for finals. Glenbrook North, Glenbrook South, and New Trier all have a similar system where seniors do not have to take the final if they have an 80 or above in that course. At New Trier, if you are taking an AP exam you do not have to take the final. These schools show examples that there is a more efficient, educational, and relaxing route to the end of high school than finals week.

As finals week comes close, many seniors are not studying or caring about exams. Finals are an opportunity to help students raise their grade, but seniors don’t take it seriously anymore because of the excitement of summer, college, and graduation upon them. Finals for seniors is doing more harm than good. Even if seniors studied, it wouldn’t make a difference in college acceptances and there is only a risk of making their grades worse and rescinding students.