Are Final Exams Actually Beneficial To Our Education?

Tyler Ory '21

During Finals week, many students experienced a lot of anguish as they went about studying and taking stressful finals, leaving many students to think: “Are these exams actually beneficial to our education?”

Exams are meant to measure the comprehensive learning we have accomplished over the past semester, and are in turn worth a large percentage of our overall grade. Personally, I do not believe that a single test should be worth such a large portion of our grade, especially given the stressful circumstances that students have to endure. During finals week, students are obliged to review a semester’s worth of material in a short period of time across multiple classes.

Many factors affect how a student performs on a test. One definite factor is how much a student studies, but a student’s health and personal life can also affect their performance on tests. By compressing many assessments into such a short period of time can have major effects on their semester grade if the student is struggling during test week due to any of these factors. They may fail or do so poorly in the class because of these external factors, rather than reflecting their ability to thrive as a learner.

Finals are also more a measure of memory than a student’s understanding of the subject as students typically spend hours trying to memorize each formula, concept, etc, before the test, and forget most of what they “learned” over break.

As someone who has ADHD, I struggle to complete much of the studying I set out to accomplish because finals demand long periods of extremely focused studying over the course of many days. Ever since I started taking finals since in seventh grade, I have always struggled with this issue, and I am sure many others have been in my same shoes. Since these factors put many students at a disadvantage, I believe that finals are not an adequate way of measuring a student’s learning ability.

In both the students’ and the school’s interest, I believe that final exams should be replaced with an alternative such as a final project that is or even a productive use of time through learning a new unit entirely.