We all know the stress of finals. The weeks leading up to those tests consist of nothing but frantically trying to remember everything you’ve learned in the semester. Studying becomes your new hobby.
Sleep is replaced with last-minute cramming. How can you even think of your upcoming break when you’re trying to relearn an entire semester?
Finals give you three testing days to try and prove that you’ve been an attentive student. But is all this pressure really worth it? Who’s to say that one test should determine 10% of our grade? Who’s to say that one test should determine how much we’ve learned in five months, let alone an entire school year?
Don’t get me wrong, I can definitely envision a teacher’s standpoint behind finals. Students should work to understand a concept as it is being presented to them so it sticks for future reference .
If you have been putting in effort all year, you shouldn’t have to be re-teaching yourself at 1 a.m. before your final.
But let’s be realistic: You can’t remember everything. I learned how to divide fractions in fourth grade, but someone still has to re-explain it to me every single time. I still can’t remember when to use “effect” instead of “affect,” or vice versa. Ask me the difference between sedimentary rocks and igneous rocks, I couldn’t tell you without referring back to my sixth grade science notebook.
Does that make me a bad student? No. Does that mean I’ve learned nothing in my past 12 years of school? No. It merely means I can’t absorb every single piece of information thrown at me.
Some students retain information quickly and easily. They hear something once, and with a little bit of practice they have it down. Not all students are like that, though.
Some students can spend countless hours trying to grasp a concept, and sometimes still not understand it. But they’re trying. They are trying so incredibly hard, putting in so much effort, fighting to see results. And yet, this effort will not be shown through a final if they don’t perform well. No one can see the progress you are making as an individual if you do poorly on the test someone else aced, and that someone else did fairly good on, and that someone else at least passed, and so on, and so on, and so on.
Give a student a test and two hours to complete it, they will show you everything they can remember. They will show you everything they can remember after hours upon hours of studying, stressing, cramming, panicking, working themselves to exhaustion night after night for this single test. But if you truly want to see how much a student has learned this semester, ask them.
Ask them if they feel like they know more than they did before. Learning should be about expanding your knowledge. Learning should not be about just learning enough to maintain a sufficient grade.