Maya Preuss, In-depth editor

For the past two years, final exams have been canceled due to the restrictions of the ongoing pandemic. Once we return to daily in-person school next year, I see no reason to reinstate them as they hold minimal benefits for CESJDS students.

In freshman year, I took four finals along with the other students in my grade. When studying for the tests, it became clear that the finals process does not really test knowledge from the year, but rather tests your memorization capabilities. Students study the material to know it for the two hours they will be taking the test rather than to remember it for the long-term future.

After I finished my final exams, I retained the knowledge for perhaps a few days. I certainly did not remember it by the following year. Final exams simply promote an environment in which students study to do well on the test, instead of studying for the sake of learning and retaining information.

Although the value of the test was reduced from 14% to 10% of one’s final grade within the last few years in order to reduce students’ stress, there is still an abundance of pressure for students surrounding the final exams.

Additionally, students are expected to answer questions and apply their knowledge from the start of the second semester, which leaves students constantly worrying about a far-away test rather than what they are currently learning.

This year, when it was initially unclear whether there would be final exams, I heard many students ask teachers if they were aware of the plans for exams. At the same time, I wondered if I would have to start stressing, rather than start studying.

The long-term stress that many experience because of final exams can lead to an increased risk of mental health and medical problems among kids. High school students already have to deal with a mountain of homework and extracurricular activities. Having finals only adds more unneeded stress to the mix of students’ workload.

Throughout the year, assessments are given to test a student’s knowledge of a certain topic. These graded tests clearly prove that students know the material, so more stress-inducing exams should not be necessary.

An argument can be made that finals are necessary in preparing students for college, and I cannot disagree with this. However, schools must decide what they want to prioritize: preparing their students for colleges’ final exams or ensuring that students stay healthy and mentally stable. Maybe both can happen in the future, but as of now I don’t see a way for the two to coexist.

These past two years without final exams have been extremely helpful in strengthening the student body morale and significantly reducing end-of-the-year stress. These cancellations have reduced the already competitive environment in a beneficial way.

The recent cancellations of exams should be followed by the total elimination of final exams at JDS. These tests should be replaced with projects within the class that will leave students with less stress and more time to enjoy their last days of the year.