Departments weigh benefits of adjusted finals policy

Final exam schedules and percentages differ from years past

Hafsa Rahman, asst. news editor

Continuing the change made to finals last year due to Covid-19, final exams will occur over four days—starting on Jan. 10 and ending on Jan. 14—with only two finals each day, Cameron Muir, Associate Principal for Curriculum and Instruction, said.

The district decided to keep the altered schedule in an effort to counter students’ anxiety and create a more comfortable environment throughout the week, Muir explained.

“[Extending final exam schedules] was an attempt to try to reduce some of that stress associated with the intensity of exams,” Muir said.

Previously, teachers could change the percentage of final exams depending on their class specifications and requirements, Muir said.

“The idea was to not put so much weight on one final exam,” Muir said. “The school gave flexibility [for] teachers to, based [on a certain] final exam, give more autonomy to the [teachers] in terms of regulating the impact [of exams].”

Senior Madeline Gifargis believes lowering final exam percentages has both pros and cons, as finals worth 20 percent can both increase and decrease pressure on students depending on their previous grade.

“All of my teachers have their exams at 10 percent,” Gifargis said. “[Lowering final exam percentages] can make for a comfortable environment, but at the same time it feels overly competitive in the sense that you feel the need to do well because the percentage is so low.”

The freshmen honors English teachers lowered all final exams percentages from 20 percent to 15 percent, English Teacher Phillip Ralston explained. This change in percentage was to reduce stress while also providing an opportunity for students to improve their semester grade.

“Statistically speaking, the [percentage] changes have probably lessened the anxiety that certain kids have about final exams and their impact,” Ralston said. “[However] for freshmen honors [English classes], we still wanted to give [students] enough percentage so they could actually improve their grades. We wanted the finals to mean something, but we are trying to lessen the anxiety that certain kids have about finals.”

To further reduce stress caused by final exams, Ralston believes the administration should consider having finals before winter break to allow students to fully enjoy the time off. 

“If we’re concerned about students’ mental health, we really need to lighten that [work] load,” Ralston said. “Instead of talking about whether finals are going to impact your final grade or not or what the percentage is, I think telling kids when they leave for winter break to ‘Go enjoy yourself, a new semester begins when you return,’ is probably the best thing for kids’ mental health.”

Gifargis shared this sentiment and said that having finals after break prevents students from enjoying the time off. Winter break should be solely for students’ time off and relaxation, she explained.

“Finals should be before break so that students don’t have to stress about them over our time off from school,” Gifargis said. “Those two weeks should be spent by taking a break from school, not worrying about it more.”