Point/Counterpoint: Do end-of-semester tests hurt or help students

Illustration representing students stress levels preparing for their semester exams. Some AP classes assigned semester exams to their students this year.

Photo courtesy of RawPixel

Illustration representing students stress levels preparing for their semester exams. Some AP classes assigned semester exams to their students this year.

Point: Luke DeZee

MCPS has been making it easier and easier for students to pass their classes without any actual effort. The way that they have been doing this is by the 50 percent rule on all task assignments, rounding your grades up for your final semester grade regardless of the percentage, as well as getting rid of finals. Due to this, students have been less prepared for college than ever before.

Finals are a great way to make sure a student will remember the information permanently. Typically students cram in studying for their unit test and then immediately forget everything they just learned. A midterm and final would help prevent this as students would have to study for longer and actually know and remember the material for the future. Finals also help students develop important study tactics that would not only benefit them in college but for AP tests at the end of the year..“I think semester exams would help prepare me for college and AP exams because it would teach me skills on how to properly prepare for major exams,” senior Andy Levin said.

A common counterargument that activists against finals make is that students are already stressed enough and don’t have any time to study for a major exam. This argument definitely has some truth to it and changes would need to be made. Instead of how finals were in the past, they should develop into something similar to college finals week where you cannot receive new assignments and the only thing you have to do is study.

”I think semester finals is a good idea, but in order for students to succeed on their finals, WJ teachers shouldn’t be allowed to give assignments during finals week in order to give students ample time to study,” senior Vishu Lal said.

Students should be getting the best education and the most preparation for college that they can and without finals, that goal will not be accomplished. On top of being in a whole new place for the first time, students will also have to figure out how to properly study for a final. This could lead to students potentially failing their exams because they simply have no idea how to study for one.

Counterpoint: Caleb Kasten

Imagine scrambling through assignments during the last week of the semester to make sure all of them are turned in for all seven classes. Now, imagine doing the same thing while also studying all of your material for multiple classes to prepare for the huge semester tests you were given.

This year, some particular AP classes assigned end-of-semester exams that caught students off guard. AP classes are meant to prepare us for similar-level courses in college, but when only some AP classes give semester exams and some don’t, it seems inconsistent to students.

Obviously, in college, there are midterms and finals with fewer, yet larger assignments. But, in high school, we are given so many tests and quizzes that leave almost no time to prepare for end-of-semester exams.

We had an end-of-semester test in AP Calc AB with only one or two weeks’ notice in advance and only a couple of days to actually study. We were also given one unit test and one large quiz a week before which gave us little time to study the old material for the whole semester.

— Nico Carbone

The whole point of the AP exam is to test the students’ skills they learned over the whole course to see how high they can score and see if it is good enough to get credit in college. Before the AP exam, students are given almost a month to review their old material so they can perform best. But, the semester exam only allowed students to study for a couple of days which set many up for failure. Calc was only one of the AP courses that gave a semester exam.

Not only were Calc students aggravated by the semester exams, but AP Micro students were too. “Summarizing the whole semester into a single test doesn’t make students learn the material better, it just makes them cram more,” senior Sean Blakeslee said.

The AP exam offered at the end of the school year is optional to students who also have to pay to take it. Students are able to sign up for the AP exam almost a full school year in advance, which gives them all this time to study and decide if they want to take it. But, some of these AP classes forced their students to take a semester exam that was mandatory, which is not only unnecessary but also unfair.