The holiday season is generally perceived as a magical time. For many high schoolers, though, the magic has dissipated. As winter storms blow in, signifying the semester’s conclusion, they carry along stress for students across Ralston Valley. Groggy from Thanksgiving break and burdened with deadlines, final exams feel like deadweight. Now students hold a single question in mind: are finals beneficial?
The anxiety that finals cause is major enough for students to question why they put in the effort. Encumbered with usual homework and assignments, studying for a test in up to seven classes can add extra hassle.
“They stress students out,” said Riya Pathak, a freshman. “We have to prepare for so much just for them to be worth fifteen percent of our grade. We already have normal tests and normal quizzes. Why do we need finals?”
With two whole days dedicated to the assessments and preparations accounting for much of the preceding half of the week, finals seem to forgo the main objective of school: to learn. Time that could be spent further educating is instead utilized to determine how much students remember from the semester.
“So, school’s focused on learning, right? But it’s like we test so much that we never learn,” freshman Catherine Wu speculated. “Like in math, basically every other day we take a quiz, and once a week we take a bigger quiz, and once a month we take a test. So, pretty much, it’s quizzes, bigger quizzes, and tests.”
Wu’s articulation may be a bit exaggerated, but she does make a provocative point. If the majority of students’ time at school is expended in the interest of tests, it negates the purpose. The progression from quizzes, to unit tests, to finals broadens a student’s workload, but not necessarily their knowledge.
“I feel like being tested on memory is very poor,” Pathak stated. “We should not be tested on memory, we should be tested on how we apply the skills we learn to real life.”
Consuming information to regurgitate on a test is not learning. Most kids subsequently forget everything they “learned.” In fact, unless their career requires it, many adults can’t solve high school math problems or complete chemical formulas they were probably tested on years ago. In the words of Albert Einstein, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”