Everyone hates finals. I know I do. But why are they unfair? I believe that they are not an accurate representation of peoples’ comprehension of the material for classes, and they are a poor gauge of what each student has learned. To evaluate students at the same time for every class that they’re in can be detrimental to the grades and health of students, and is not a good guide to go off of to show teachers what their pupils have learned.
Getting a good finals schedule is the luck of the draw. This semester, I was one of the unlucky ones. Today alone I have two exams (with only one hour in between each of them), this blog project due, and the paper rewrite for this class due. That is a lot to deal with. I know I have been trying to space out my studying for everything, but I had other projects and exams earlier in the week. Even during midterm season this semester I had three exams within one 24-hour period. I know that I am not nearly the only one who has a schedule similar to or worse than this. So why does so much of our grades depend on these final projects and exams?
The first reading of the semester (Live and Learn) dealt with the idea of whether or not we should be evaluated more off of our GPA or rather our general qualifications (Menard). I definitely believe that our qualifications should be taken into account much more than our GPA when in consideration for a job, admission to a school, scholarship, etc. Just because someone has a 4.0 GPA it doesn’t mean that they are going to be a good teacher, musician, sports broadcaster, etc., it may just mean that they are a bookworm or a good test taker. Should the students who have multiple extra curricular activities and engage in something outside of their studies be punished for not only being a student? Absolutely not. Part of college is experiencing things that may interest you. That being said, these activities may come into conflict with studying around exam time. Your GPA won’t show if you had a rough semester, if you had bad professors, or if your classes were the easiest you’ve ever taken in your life. It is just a number that can define your success or failure as a student.
So how does this correlate to exams? Exams assign you a number, which is supposed to indicate your success or failure over the course of the entire semester. You could have worked extremely hard all year and proven yourself in class on numerous occasions, but messed up the final. Like your GPA, your exam score doesn’t show if you had three exams on the same day, if you had been up until 5:30am studying the night before, or if you had been pacing yourself for weeks to achieve your goal. I have found that more often than not students become completely burnt out during finals time and get a much lower score than they should in relation to their knowledge about the class material. Some students do well. It may be because they thrive under pressure, or their exams are spaced out by days instead of hours. These factors are out of the control of students, yet they highly influence final grades in the class.
So, how do we make finals time fairer? It is the same problem with assigning GPAs; no evaluation system will be perfect. If there were a better way to evaluate students, this would be the method that is currently used. What do you suggest should be done to change the system and make it better? Or do we resign ourselves to the fact that quantity is valued more than quality?
Menard, Louis. Live and Learn. http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2011/06/06/110606crat_atlarge_menand. June 6, 2011.