Students Struggle And Adapt For Success
By Elizabeth Cayouette-Gluckman
These exams constitute a large portion of students grades for most classes, in some cases even upwards of twenty percent. This means that students feel extreme pressure to do well on this one exam, or risk dropping their grade by as many as two letters.
Students employ various techniques to make it through the week, from staying up cramming and then hyping themselves up on caffeine, to beginning to study several weeks in advance and then just trusting they know the material. Despite the varying tactics, a universal sentiment of joy that finals week is ending is expressed by all Salem High students.
When asked for a quote on finals week rising junior Emily Nikolopoulos jokingly says “I just cried and said ‘I tried’”. She goes on to explain that though she appreciated the advisory study period, she feels that “we definitely aren’t supporting much mental health if we put all the pressure of eight classes into one week.”
The advisory study period is a mandatory one hour study block that students must attend between exams. A new policy enacted this year, the same scheduling system was also used during midterm week over the winter.
This is a controversial policy, as it was met with great public outcry from the students who had previously been let out of school an hour earlier during exam week. Students felt that they could study better from the comfort of their home, a particularly valid point when considering that the advisory rooms do not have access to computers to aid in studying.
The advisory study period came into place however to encourage studying, as there were concerns that students would not study at all if simply allowed to go home. There is validity to this concern, making the study period a difficult dilemma.
Rising senior Nicole Veno initially says that “I haven’t slept in a week, but at least I passed precalc!” She says that she “looked over all of [her] study guides and did a lot of practice problems,” so it is not surprise to hear that she passed.
When asked how she feels about finals as an overall policy Veno explains that “I think that finals are productive when they don’t weigh your grade for the class too much. I think there should be a set percentage of your overall grade that your final is and that it shouldn’t be too high because some classes depend only on your tests, which isn’t fair if you aren’t a good test taker.”
It is up to teachers discretion what they do for their final, though they are required to give one, and how much of the students grade the final will make up.
Danni Stotts, another rising senior, says that she thinks “projects can be (a good alternative) because it helps us with time management. [She] thinks the tests measure the quality of our memory but not necessarily our knowledge.” For Stotts’ AP Psychology final she worked on a “serial box/cereal killer project,” which was a long term assignment.
Rising senior Sophie Blake “[prefers her] knowledge to be measured based on the work [she’s] done throughout the class, rather than dedicating so much attention to one test.” This method would prevent one test from making or breaking a students grade, which would indubitably be a relief to many students.
Blake adds that “depending on the subject [she] sometimes think that final projects are more effective and accurate.”
Though Salem High students are universally thrilled to be wrapping up finals week, it is to their credit that they have managed to make it through the week with such poise and perseverance. They have worked hard, and have reason to expect good grades in their closing reports.