Yes finals, no finals, who really knows

Position Statement: LT needs to have a structured finals plans for all classes

“Are we going to have a final exam in this class?” 

This statement is something everyone has heard in almost every class. After three semesters without final exams and a new grading system, everyone seems unsure about what the actual plan for finals at LT is. LT needs to have a structured final exam plan across all classes. 

Final exams are a stressful thing for all students, but not knowing if you have a final exam or not is even more stress inducing for students. Teachers are left to their own devices to choose if their class will have a final exam, causing chaos and confusion. Between seven classes, tests, and retakes, it is impossible to memorize what each class plans to do. The only information common amongst every class is that if teachers do choose to give a final, it must be no harm. However, for many students, whether it can ruin your grade or not doesn’t matter. Students just want to know what their final schedule looks like, and what to expect in the future.  In the past, there was a final exam schedule which offered longer times to take the final exams.  However, now all finals would have to be crammed into normal school day periods, or taken over multiple days.

Many teachers want their students to do their best, especially for AP classes, where finals can be practice for the AP exam. Pre-COVID-19 finals accounted for 20% of a student’s semester grade, and every single class had them. Each class could also choose the format of their test (multiple choice, free response, or essays). 

Knowing that your grade can’t be hurt by finals definitely takes some worrying and hours of studying away, but going into the future, LT needs a plan for all disciplines to follow. Currently, every class seems to be doing something different regarding final exams. Thus, LT needs a finals plan that is consistent across all disciplines.

The new grading system has definitely caused many students to be more stressed, but having an across-the-board final exam plan can help students succeed in the long run. The majority of college courses do have final exams, so not having a final could lead students to struggle with mandatory finals in college. While in the moment it is nice not to cram months of studying into a week, not having enough practice could make future final exams more difficult. 

Having final exams be no harm is a good start, especially for AP classes, where any preparation is helpful. While AP exams are not until May, and test all units at once, a test formatted similarly can help students know what to expect. Yet not all AP classes are choosing to do this, and the majority of classes are opting out as well. If these end-of-the-semester tests are considered the class final exam, then each class should have one; most classes have been built around final exams anyway and have extra time. 

If only specific classes feel the need for a cumulative exam, they should be counted as formative points instead. Having the opportunity to boost your grade with a no harm final in some classes but not in others is giving those students an unfair advantage. Thus, if a class does want to have a final exam they should be formative and not affect a students grade at all or every discipline should have a no-harm summative final. The label of final exam is a stressor in itself, but having students not know if their class will have a final exam at the end of the semester seems both unorganized and ununified.