Its Time to Retire Finals

Finals should not be allowed, and heres why.

Finals should not be allowed, and heres why.

Emily Harter, Writer

For decades, students have been given final exams at the end of the year in order to scale how much the student can recall learning from the past semesters. The stress-inducing practice prompts students to get in the habit of late-night study sessions, constant worry about grades, and loss of focus on other things that are important in their lives. It’s time that we abolish finals.


Oftentimes during finals week, students are scrambling to get in as much studying as possible while ignoring their basic human needs such as sleep, eating, and hygiene. Self care is one of the most important things for mental health, and when teenagers ignore it, they worsen their symptoms of stress. 


Associate professor of Biobehavioral Health, Jennifer Graham-Engeland has conducted numerous studies on how the effects of stress can manifest in different ways. 


“A common phenomenon is negative mood (anxiety, sadness, anger), which when prolonged by rumination can lead to exacerbated physiological stress responses.” Graham-Engeland said in an interview with Penn State newspaper, The Daily Collegian.


On top of the mental strain that finals puts on students, final exams won’t help students apply their knowledge to the real world. An alternative could be a final project. They are less stressful for students, but can still be adequate for them to display what they have learned in the class. 


Project-based learning benefits students by helping them investigate and communicate to a real and complex challenge with deep and sustained attention,” Isabel Colado from The Columbia Chronicle said.


One claim that teachers and administrators often present to students is that taking final exams will help students prepare for college. However, finals are stressful for everyone, so why don’t we save the stress for college? Students know how to memorize facts for tests, but final projects would be more beneficial for learning content in the long run. 


“By bringing real-life context and technology to the curriculum through a PBL [Project Based Learning] approach, students are encouraged to become independent workers, critical thinkers, and lifelong learners,” Michael McDowell from said. 


At Olathe West, we pride ourselves on being a project based learning school. So why are my classmates and I given exams for most of our finals? If we learn with projects, we should also have the opportunity to display what we have learned with projects. It’s especially difficult to take cumulative exams when we’ve had such a crazy year due to COVID-19.


In most of my classes, I am being tested on work that I learned in a Zoom class nine months ago. While we cannot blame the teachers for these unfortunate conditions, I do believe that teachers and administrators could consider a less stressful final project in lieu of a final exam. 


Most young adults are stressed enough without the extra pressure of one last test that their final grades depend on. Hopefully in the future, high schools and colleges will consider giving final projects instead of exams for the sake of students mental and physical wellbeing.