Finals: Medieval or Modern?

Natasha Malonza, Editor in Chief

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Many of us have only just started studying for AP Exams, but it is never too early to think about finals.  

Soon enough we will all be swept up in the stress-filled wave of cramming 4 months of information back into our heads. Makes you wonder why we do it to begin with. It’s not like the final is the only assessment of our understanding.  Students still have assessments intermittently throughout the school year at various points in the curriculum. Yet, we still have to endure the lengthy tests that have a large impact on our grades despite the little value they seem to have on our understanding of the material overall.  The real question is why we have them in the first place, and if they have some value that we, students, do not understand.

There are two sides to this issue, the side that advocates the exams and the side that wants to do away with them. The side that wants the finals to stay argue that the tests are about more than taking tests. They say that it is an accurate way for teachers to assess how well students retained and understood information. It also has benefits to the student as well. From their perspective, the very act of studying for the tests requires students to use time management skills and discipline to stay on task. These skills are invaluable outside the academic field, and for that reason, the finals must stay.

But aren’t there other ways to learn the same two skills that don’t induce as much stress and anxiety in students? The answer is yes, there are. In fact, day to day activities such as doing homework, managing after school activities, and studying for weekly assessments requires students to use time management skills and discipline to get the job done.

So what does the anti-final party argue? Students’ knowledge and understanding of the subject is already tested during the year, which makes the final just another test, albeit a longer and harder one. In addition to midterms and finals, students now have to factor in state mandated testing and other standardized tests. This begs the question: Wouldn’t it be easier on both students and teachers to just prepare for the state testing than to go through 3 testing cycles, 4 if AP testing is considered, per year?

So what is the answer to the dilemma of whether finals are medieval or modern? Both. The answer is that finals are both.. They are a valuable tool for educators to gauge the long term understanding of the students, and for students to become comfortable with longer testing and rigorous studying. However, the age where the final served as the only indicator of understanding has passed. Welcome to the age of the PARCC, the AP tests, the SAT and ACT, the midterm and the final. It’s not too soon to start studying.

 

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Finals: Medieval or Modern?