With optional finals this year, students, teacher, evaluate value of holding final exams, benefits to new finals week plan


Arthur Mansavage

Sara Atlihan, intermediate precalculus/trigonometry teacher, speaks with a student while grading tests.Atlihan said she will not be giving a final exam this year. After students take the last chapter test their current grade will be the final grade for the semester.

Maddie Misterka

After a year of hybrid and virtual learning, affecting many school operations, administration announced there will be no formal finals week this school year with “final exams” being weighted no more than typical tests.

Junior Amna Mallick, who has not experienced a  finals week since the first semester of her freshman year, said she likes the idea, but believes there might be potential drawbacks to the change.

“I think (a typical finals week) better prepares you for college because most colleges still have a formal finals week,” Mallick said, “but I know (administration) is trying to take student’s mental health into account more, which I appreciate.”

However, senior Rida Jawad said she doesn’t see many drawbacks to these new adaptations.

“I can’t think of a reason people wouldn’t like it. At some point, you have to ask, what’s the point of (having finals),” Jawad said.

Because finals are optional this year, math teacher Kristina Hunt said she will not give a cumulative final to her classes this semester.

“(As a teacher,) it’s important to ask yourself, why are we giving this test? And while there’s value in trying to prepare kids for exams in college, I think we need to be paying more attention to the here and now of what’s happening in our classes to weigh what content we think is more important,” she said.

Jawad said she supports these changes and believes the new schedule will benefit students and teachers.

“After being in hybrid for a year from COVID, people weren’t in much of a school routine, so easing back into it makes the whole process a lot less stressful for everyone,” she said.

Hunt agreed, but understands why some classes would still give finals this year despite the new schedule.

“It doesn’t really make a difference in students’ grades,” Hunt said. “If a student is averaging an A or B in the class they tend to score in that range on the final, and the same for lower scoring students. If we aren’t learning new information from presenting a final to students who still need to resituate themselves in a school setting, we’re not being productive.”

“I definitely like (the idea of) this new plan,” Mallick said. “I’d prefer to have time to work on projects to develop my grade, even if I might have scored better or worse on a final, just because I know I put my best effort into my (long term work).”

Finals Week Speakups