Are Final exams worth it?

It’s that time of year again where students across campus will be studying for their final exams in their classes. Each class is expected to have this final exam, unless you are one of the lucky few whose professors don’t require these exams to be part of their grading system. Students may find themselves scrambling to memorize all information from the course and trying to prioritize which chapters they should study. This is a gamble, most students essentially end up reasoning they need to know everything instead of prioritizing some concepts to ensure a good final grade. This isn’t a sound strategy but it’s what many students do to prepare themselves for these exams.

Most of the stress from these exams stem from the finality and the last-ditch effort of it all to save or improve on your overall grade. It is the last chance students with “bad grades” have, to improve their grade. The importance placed on this exam means one of two things: either a student will rise above the stress and do well or fail before they reach the starting line. In all these cases, a question is brought up: should a final exam be a part of the education system? In college, we are taking these classes to retain the information taught to us and apply it to our daily lives, but does that happen if a student is cramming for a better grade? We need to ask what is important. Do you want students to do well on the course and forget almost all the information two weeks later, or retain the information and maybe do just as well in the course in a difference system? Most professors that I have met would prefer the latter. They want their information to be retained and to actually teach the students, not just teach students how to be good test-takers and that’s what final exams do. It just teaches us how to cram an abundance of information into our heads for a short amount of time. If you ask me to take another test on a course’s material a month after the course completion, 80 percent of the time I would fail. I don’t want that to be the case.

I understand that in college we need to be tested as a measure of how we are doing in the class, but I always feel that is more effective in weekly quizzes or even tests which cover smaller sections of the material instead of an overall view. In this way, if you do fail one or two assessments, you have a chance to bounce back and professors can get an idea of how the material is being retained. In any other way, all the feedback given to the professor is assumed and students value a grade over the information they are learning. If you ask a student how about their class experience, they will almost always talk about what grades they got, if the material was hard to memorize or if the course work was difficult, but rarely do they respond with what they learned in the class. That is a major problem in our education system today that must be fixed. In the meantime, in a sense of brutal irony, I will be studying for my final exams.

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