Final exams might be stressful, but they’re still important
Stress fills the air. Libraries are full of students, heads bent over laptops, fingers typing furiously and eyes skimming over their scrupulous notes. Teachers hand out semester review packets and lecture their students about the importance of studying for the upcoming tests. Students in the hallways are reduced to a mass of sleep-deprived zombies. Though the upcoming winter break should mean excitement at the prospects of a long vacation, it’s overshadowed by the dreaded three-day final exams.
Finals are almost universally feared, and their value has been a point of contention in recent years. Some believe that finals unnecessarily load students with stress and should be abolished altogether. However, these exams actually help to prepare students for the future.
Most high school students plan on attending college post-graduation, where they would again encounter finals. Even further down the road, many licensing exams are primarily comprehensive exams that cover all subject material, which closely parallel the nature of finals. Finals allow students to cultivate the foundational study skills and habits for these kinds of cumulative exams, setting them up for success in their future educational endeavors. Without finals, high school students lose the opportunity to learn how to study for these kinds of exams without the pressure of failing a college course and losing thousands of dollars at stake.
Even if a student decides to end their formal education after high school, finals build crucial skills like time management. Students have to prepare for several finals, so they have to figure out how they can budget their time and balance their priorities. These time management skills prepare students for the demands of their future work-life balance, as they demonstrate how to efficiently and effectively complete both work-related tasks and save time for leisure and social activities.
Everyone can benefit from working under pressure. Most students agree that they feel overwhelmed knowing that an upcoming exam can either make or break their grades, but this is an important lesson to learn. Especially for underclassmen, the unfamiliarity of finals has left many anxious and apprehensive about the upcoming exams.
“I think the stress level is high, especially since I’m a sophomore. It’s my first finals [week], and I’m not used to the structure of the exams, so it’s a lot,” Adam Kamel, ‘24, said.
However, the abundance of stress is not limited to underclassmen: many upperclassmen feel like they are bombarded with last minute assignments, tests, and exams.
“It’s really stressful that we have a ton of tests the week before [final exams], leaving very little time to actually study for the finals,” Charlotte Stanton, ‘23, said.
This nerve-racking and rigorous environment helps students develop their own coping strategies and grow accustomed to working in these sorts of circumstances. Students will one day be forced to work under pressure, so preparing them for this sooner rather than later is never a bad idea.
Sure, it may be mentally taxing to study a whole semester’s worth of content for multiple classes, but if high school students keep getting the easy way out, there will never be any room for growth. Especially after a year of a pandemic, many have lost motivation and the will to persevere through academic challenges.
“When it comes to academic challenges and perseverance, the students are a little out of shape,” Conant Physics teacher Martin Kulak said. “I think it will take time to get that back.”
It may seem as though finals only serve to undermine all of the hard work students have put into their classes by having such a large impact on grades. However, it is imperative to realize that as brutal as they may seem, finals teach valuable skills and offer a multitude of preparatory opportunities, which have the chance to leave a lasting positive impact on students and their futures.