Temple City High School

Final exams: Final way to exhaust cramming students

Reminders of finals are usually followed by groans from students, who sensibly dread reviewing (or, let’s face it, cramming) countless facts into their brains before sunrise.

Finals seem to show how much a student learned, but the truth is that students, with an ongoing stream of information shoved into our minds, cannot recall facts we learned months ago. This constant flow and our busy schedules provide us with no other option than cramming for these tests.

Even without finals, students have plenty to juggle: the American Psychological Association found that 45% of all teenagers are stressed by school pressures. Finals only contribute to this.

They also have harmful effects. The ChildLine National Exam Stress Survey of 2011 reported that almost half of the 1,300 students they interviewed said they had skipped meals, two-thirds said they have had trouble sleeping and 14% said they have used alcohol to cope with exam anxiety. No test should terrify students so much that they would sacrifice their health for it.

And these sacrifices are not done for any long-term benefits. Reading notes from old lectures will not have an everlasting impact in our heads, especially when we are usually low on energy while studying. Like most teens I know, I can better remember what happened on Facebook last night than, say, what ATP does in photosynthesis.

The National Training Laboratories’ Learning Pyramid shows that students best retain information by having group discussions, actively participating and teaching others. Assigning a project would maximize the use of these activities. Skills gained in projects are also more rewarding to a student’s future career, whereas the ability to pass tests is rarely needed after completing school.

Teachers give out high-stakes exams to prepare students for how they will study for college finals, but some students may not even attend college. If a student does choose to go, the ability to study better depends on the individual’s drive and schedule. Many seniors here still pull all-nighters to study for finals, even after having had to prepare for them six times throughout their high school years.

Despite all the stress and lack of help from finals now, at least I know I have great cramming skills, right?

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