Yes: Should finals policies, procedures be more lenient?


graphic by Jocelyn Wang

The end of the semester is rapidly approaching, and finals are looming upon us. We have all, at some point, frantically rummaged through class notes in an at- tempt to recover faded knowledge of some chapter learned in September, calculated on RogerHub the minimum percentage needed for survival and prayed late at night to a nonexistent study god. With students already juggling the challenges of school work, grades and social relationships, finals only serve to exacerbate these stresses. Additionally, finals don’t necessarily aid students’ academic success in the future. Finals policies should instead be reformed to become more lenient in order to reduce stress and make room for more beneficial uses of time and energy.

The resulting stress from finals is un- necessary and negatively affects students’ health and academic performance. A study conducted by New York University found that many high schoolers experience levels of chronic stress so high that it may impede their abilities to succeed academically. Such chronic stress is also often followed by a multitude of health concerns, including sleep difficulties, anxiety and depression. Students already feel an incredible amount of academic pressure, and final exams only perpetuate this. Having a more lenient finals policy takes away the additional stress of finals and allows students to happily end the semester.

Although it is true that finals can be viewed as an opportunity to exhibit everything a student has learned in a course over a semester, tests and quizzes taken throughout the year already thoroughly assess students’ understanding of the material. Therefore, a cumulative exam on overly specific, unnecessary details from each unit does not reveal anything new and only serves as an added source of stress. A lenient policy of optional finals would give students who want to raise their grade an opportunity to do so. Another option would be to have an exam that has little weight on students’ grades. As a result, students’ progress and efforts over the whole year would carry increased importance, lessening the pressure and rendering finals more useful.

Additionally, the stress of finals doesn’t facilitate a student’s abilities to learn and apply the material; it is more than likely that students will study to pass the exam and soon forget everything afterwards. Also, finals are taken at the end of the semester, so students do not typically return to see what they’ve gotten wrong and can improve on. As a result, finals push students to frantically memorize as much superficial information as possible in order to pass the test, but they ultimately fail to retain that information. A better alternative to such a finals policy would be a project that requires students to apply the knowledge they’ve learned throughout
the year. A final project, as opposed to a test, will also help students in the future. As adults, we will more likely face dilemmas that require problem-solving skills, not be pressed to exhibit the ability to memorize as much information as possible and regurgitate it on a test.

Final exams are a source of incredible stress that adversely affects student health and are a redundant way to measure students’ knowledge. Instead, more lenient finals policies will prepare students better for real-world applications of formation and problem-solving skills, reduce stress and increase health and academic engagement. Unfortunately, such finals policies are yet to be adopted by the majority of teachers; so, to all the students who have finals to face soon, godspeed.