IE Grapevine Updates

Sweeney: No seriously, finals are pointless

After having stressed out for a solid month, an hour and a half relieved me of all of that anxiety.

Katlin Sweeney

Katlin Sweeney

Taking my final exams is my least favorite aspect of college. As an individual that enjoys going to class and learning about subjects that may or may not initially interest me, I have a hard time believing that one exam properly dictates my performance as a student.

I consider having to take a final test that will make or break my grade in a class as one of the biggest idiosyncrasies of the educational system. This is simply not a logical means of evaluating my, or anyone else’s, understanding of the course and information. I will admit that I am lousy at Chemistry and my test grades average in the C range. But after spending an extra two to three hours a week in tutoring, doing hours of extra credit, and going to my professor’s office hours, relying on a final to decide how much effort I put in does not make sense.

In college, we spend almost four months studying a particular subject. During the course’s duration, we are supposed to perform to the best of our abilities on every test, homework assignment, and essay. This will likely put your grade in a ‘safe’ position before the final. However, many of these courses are structured so that even if you have a good grade in the class, if you fail the final you drop down a letter grade.

Where the fairness and practicality in that is, I have yet to find it. If a student performs well and puts in their best effort throughout the semester, I do not think that condemning them for a lousy final exam grade is logical. Plenty of factors weigh in on whether or not a student does well on the test: stress, sleep deprivation, illness, personal issues, etc. Granted, lack of preparedness is no excuse for why a final should be dismissed. But counting on one test to determine that student’s value is academia’s crucial mistake.

Some classrooms are structured so that the professor asks you to cram as much information into your brain as possible before the test so that you do well. One of my professors this semester asked students to memorize and write down the exact, textbook definition of terms for every test. She did not want interpretations of the information or anything written in your own words. She said it ‘proved’ you read if you knew the exact definition, word for word. I did well on the tests she gave us because I stuffed the information into my mind with short-term memorization tricks. But because of this, I cannot tell you a single thing she lectured on this semester.

Memorizing factoids and statistics may help you secure a good grade on the exam. But as for preparing you for life, it does nothing. School should exist not only to teach students the skills that they need in the professional world, but so that they can learn. Knowing something about everything is absolutely vital. Sure, it is great to be an expert in various fields. But if you are restricted to only a few subjects, your worth is pretty relative as well.

Taking a final test makes sense if the professor wants to evaluate what information was most remembered by students over the course of the semester. However, I advocate that the final exam should not be worth the majority of the student’s grade. It should not be handed out with a study guide and stress attached to it. Instead, it should function like a pop quiz. Students should have to take the test to demonstrate what the teacher effectively taught. It would serve as an evaluation of the teaching methods that were used, and to decide if the course is effectively preparing and educating students of information that they will need in the future.

At its core, college is supposed to be about giving people an education. It’s about time that we remind the administration that while they are a business, we’re paying tuition for a reason.

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