Should Finals Come Back?

Senior Eileen Sheetz studies for the upcoming final exams

Laure Schulders

Senior Eileen Sheetz studies for the upcoming final exams

Ashley Seymour

On the last three days of school before winter break, semester finals are making a return to North for the first time in almost two years. But is this “return to normalcy” the best option? After listening to what many students and staff have to say about the topic, the overall opinion is clear: finals should not come back. 

Finals week has normally been scheduled at the end of the semester in January and May until the 2019-2020 school year when COVID-19 hit and finals were put on pause. As a result of the pandemic bringing finals to a halt, many of the students and staff have felt relieved over not having the tests. However, to the surprise of many, teachers began sharing in their classes that finals would be coming back this school year. A number of staff and students are confused, shocked and frustrated with this decision. 

Students have spoken about their frustrations with not knowing about the decisions being made that ultimately affect them and their peers. The faculty also didn’t seem to know much about what was happening with finals before the announcement was made to them, either. Whether or not there would be finals this year was still up in the air until recently. Despite the fact that the students and staff are the ones impacted most by this decision, no one recalls any kind of opportunity to give our own input on the opinion of finals.

This decision came out suddenly, and after everyone surviving the school year without having to go through the two weeks of finals last year, most assumed that finals would just not be a needed aspect to our curriculum anymore. After not having finals for two years and the students and staff supposedly content with the pause, the need for them has seemed to decrease and questions the importance of them in the first place. These semester-ending tests also bring stress to the students, and time away from the teachers’ days, which could be used more efficiently for lessons. Knowing that we as a school have made it through almost two years of no finals, is it really necessary to continue with the overwhelming and high-pressured tests? 

Especially seen with upperclassmen, many are taking AP courses which are under the curriculum of already being set for a final exam through the College Board in May. Students in AP courses have to remember so much information from the class in the first place for this test, so the addition of two end-of-semester tests seems pointless for people in AP classes. Although not every student takes the advanced course, those who do are under a lot of pressure to remember the material in order to do well on both final exams plus the AP exam in May. 

For students who are not enrolled in AP classes, the idea of finals seems even more pointless. There is no big test at the end of the year for most classes, and cumulative exams are not the norm. So why are they expected to take them? 

Feedback on the return of finals has been heard throughout the school since first being announced, and many are unhappy and confused with why they are necessary after going two years without them. Although it’s a relief to have them done before the two-week break rather than afterwards, it’s still a stressful week for all and much of the student body and faculty believe that there is no point to these exams. The student body, including myself, is grateful for the chance to be back in person this year, but finals returning to North makes us question if all “normal” aspects of what we had before the pandemic should reoccur going forward.