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Final Exams: Do We Want Them to Stay?

By Jack Kannapell

I believe there are two times a year when stress levels among students nationwide are at their peak, causing many to have trouble studying for the dreadful test that is approaching. I’m referring to final exams. The most agitating, time consuming, grade shattering tests of the year.

Recently, as many MCPS students are aware, Montgomery County has just declared that they will no longer be administering these aggravating tests. Instead they have created four alternatives to finalize semester grades.

Sure, most of us believe that final exams are pointless and only sabotage our grades and our time, but before we are too hasty to censure these tests it is still important to recognize the benefits that they can provide. There are many students who utilize their final exams in order to boost their semester grades at the end of each marking period if they were not doing so hot throughout the school year. Also, many believe reviewing material learned on day one of school is unimportant to what they are learning one hundred and eighty days later, but isn’t it important to see how much learning has actually been absorbed by one’s brain? Although final exams are important to a certain extent, in the end I think they are more detrimental to students grades and stress than they are advantageous to students learning.

However, this topic is too big to be represented by just one person’s opinion, which is why I have interviewed students throughout B-CC regarding this topic. “I have taken final exams since the sixth grade. These tests have neither harmed nor improved my grades after five years, so from my viewpoint, all they have done is served as a waste of my time” says Lucas Salcedo, a junior at B-CC.

When asked about the impact the removal of these tests on students grades, Salcedo said,  “I believe that the alternatives to final exams offered by MCPS are definitely going to change a lot of things, especially grade-wise. As of right now, though, it is too early to tell whether or not these alternatives will help or lower students grades, they will probably do both.”

There is also some speculation as to why MCPS decided to scrap final exams and some disagreement as to whether or not it was a good idea. Jack Barker, another junior at B-CC, declares that “MCPS dropped exams because they wanted more time to educate students rather than waste two weeks of their time studying for these stressful tests.” Yet, he cannot decide whether this is a good solution to more education because he hasn’t experienced a year without the exams.

The benefits of final exams are also limited compared to how badly exams can damage student’s grades. When asked about this topic, Sam Akins a student new to MCPS last year said that “Exams can help a lot [because] they demonstrate how much I have actually learned throughout the year and they are also a huge help to practice for larger tests like AP or IB exams. However, one bad grade on a final exam can ruin one’s entire semester of hard work, and for that, I think I’d rather not have these tests.”

Final exams: do we want them to stay? It seems as though even though we do gain a lot from studying for these tests, the profit is not equal to the damage these tests can cause. Obviously there will be those who say that final exams are essential to good learning and prosperity in education. Nevertheless, many students think that final exams should be done away with in order to provide for a better educational experience.

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