Do We Need Final Exams?


Instead of honoring MLK Day this year, Ann Arbor high school students are stuck studying for finals. Final exams aren’t worth the stressful and sleepless nights.

High school students should be getting eight to ten hours of sleep nightly. According to the National Sleep Foundation, students not only spend less time sleeping during finals week, but they engage in unhealthy sleeping habits. Since students are under an increased amount of stress during finals, they are more likely to increase their use of caffeine and other stimulants. They spend more time exposed to their electronics; the brain interprets this blue light as sunlight, disrupts your circadian rhythms and keeps you awake.

Spending six hours of my Saturday evening studying shouldn’t be typical. As the semester comes to an end, students are flooded with review packets and crammed lessons for preparation for final exams. According to the State News, some students refuse to take breaks from studying because they view it as a waste of time.

However, expecting students to retain information from the beginning of the semester is unethical. Throughout the school year, students take unit tests and quizzes for progress checks. Therefore, students who understand the material will do well on each test. Taking a cumulative assessment doesn’t tell the teacher any new information.

There is unnecessary stress added when the words “final exam” appear. If a student does poorly on the exam, there is nothing left to do. Since exam grades are posted after the semester ends, students are stuck with their grades. These tests determine a student’s test-taking ability, not their understanding of the material.

There are other ways for students to show mastery of content: projects, smaller quizzes and portfolios.

The high-pressure environment created during finals week set up a space for certain students to fail. With colleges moving toward the test-optional rule, they are allowing greater opportunity for students to focus on academic performance rather than relying on standardized tests. High schools should do the same.

In weeks leading up to finals, teachers often rush new lessons to make up for the lost time. Students are likely to forget the information right after taking the test.

Many students are stuck cramming to study for these tests. According to The Washington Post, studies have shown that cramming can lead to better outcomes on the test day than the same amount of time studying spread out. But after the test day, much of what they knew for the test is forgotten.

As a student, it seems obvious to have negative opinions about final exams. But they are simply ineffective and pointless. Final exams don’t measure a student’s understanding but rather how well a student can memorize material. Final exams allow no room for real-life application; they make students rememorize material just for it to be forgotten the next day.

Overall, the negative consequences of final exams outweigh the outcome. There is no benefit to final exams and they do not help students gain confidence in these subjects. Final exams are outdated and need to be taken out of high school curriculums.