Finals, For Our Own Good?

Although conceptually debated, finals help with knowledge retention and college level courses, especially at 20%.

Finals, For Our Own Good?

Ella Rogge, Managing Editor

Should finals be worth 20% of our grade? The commonly asked question elicits vast responses of opinion but how does 20% actually affect one’s final semester grade? With the final exam being worth 20% of an individual’s final grade, every point received above their average grade for that semester will raise their grade .02% and every point below their grade will lower it .02%. This minute impact evokes the question of why even have final exams?

The Montgomery Experiment, which used the implication of final projects and assessments rather than the widely dreaded final exam, is one example of an alternative that similarly influences retention of material without the stress of a “finals week”. While this alternative can be useful to alleviate stress among students, in preparation for Advanced Placement and standardized, the ACT or SAT, testing it can leave students unsuspecting of the elongated test period, which is typically around 3 hours. Although this means that alternatives to final exams are not applicable in all courses, final projects and assessments could be utilized for classes of lesser rigor to alleviate stress. 

In addition to giving students preparation for other forms of testing, finals being cumulative of the material addressed over the course of the semester also influence an individual’s retention of the acquired knowledge. According to an article by BioMed Central, cumulative assessments positively impact study efforts among students. Thus, through the use of finals, students learn study habits that will be useful in higher education. Furthermore, the repetition of content is highly beneficial to influence retention of material, meaning that forcing students to recall information learned throughout the semester and input that material within an exam causes the individual to retain the coursework.

Finally, in preparing high schoolers for the rigor of college courses, finals are necessary. While in high school final exams are worth 20% of one’s final grade, collegiate exams can count for up to one-third, or 33%, of one’s final grade. Although the final exams are not worth a substantially greater percentage, grades in college courses typically consist solely of test scores rather than the helpful add-ins such as assignments and quizzes which are present in high school. Thus the use of finals in high school are beneficial in preparing students for higher level education in teaching them study habits.