Preparing for finals

Opinions about the value vary


The Mirror reporter

Finals week can be stressful for a lot of people. It means a lot of studying and preparation by students to prove they’ve learned something in the last few months.

Finals this year are on Jan. 20 and 21. The first day will consist of the classes 1, 3, 7 and 5 in that order and on Jan. 21 it will be 2, 4, 8 and 6. The lunch hours, 5 and 6, are at the end of the day so people can leave earlier on the day they have lunch. The whole school has 40 minutes for lunch after the first two exams of the day.

Usually classes are around 50 minutes long but during finals the classes are longer giving enough time to finish tests. Also during finals, the passing periods are extended to ten minutes long so students have longer to get to class.

“This is my first time up at the high school when they have real finals in every class and I’m not exactly sure what I’m supposed to be doing to get ready,” Katherine Pfeiffer, a Stevens Point Area Senior High (SPASH) student said.

Studying the material for the test isn’t the only way to prepare. It is important to get enough sleep the night before and make sure to eat a good breakfast to give brain power for the test.

“I always make sure to get a good night sleep and keep snacks with me to eat between tests,” Jenna Menadue, a SPASH senior, said. “Finals can be long so it’s good to eat something to stay energized. I also bring a water bottle and chew gum because it helps me stay focused when I’m taking the test.”

When going to class be sure to have all therequired  materials. Bring a few extra pencils and any other items that are needed. Students can also bring a book or something to do if they finish the test early as students can’t leave the room until the testing time is over.

This can be a strenuous time for the students and teachers alike, however, after the two days of finals the students have the following Friday and Monday off for a recordkeeping day and an Institute Day.

Finals are a big part of a student’s grade and it’s the cause a lot of stress in the minds of students especially when they don’t know what to expect. Finals can make up from 10 percent to 20 percent depending on the class.

Many students at SPASH feel that having a big test at the end of each semester doesn’t really show the information a student knows.

“I have good grades and I comprehend what is happening in my classes but I have trouble taking tests and they falsely portray the information that I know,” Brianna Check, SPASH senior, said. “I think labs and projects are more helpful in showing what information I learned.”

Whether large tests really shows what a student knows is a controversial issue that is highly debated. Some people believe that it only tests how good you are at test taking and memorization.

Some schools have even gotten rid of finals in place of other methods of testing student’s knowledge. This includes just having small tests and quizzes instead of a high stakes cumulative test.

Another example would be a paper about what the student learned or an annotated portfolio of the work completed throughout the semester. Student proposed projects that are related to their course goals are another option.

Information about these alternatives to finals can be found on the Berkeley Center for Teaching and Learning site “Alternatives for Traditional Testing.”

At SPASH it depends on the class and the teacher. Students may have a traditional test, a final project, a lab or a combination of these types of assessments. Teachers also get to choose if they want to have their final on an accumulation of all the things they taught in the last semester or on the last unit.

“My opinion on final exams? It helps the students prep for what is going to be required for the next level of education, and helps me evaluate students’ knowledge gained while also evaluating my teaching as far as what they really grasped,” Duwayne Behnke, SPASH teacher, said,

Not all teachers agree about what finals should be. Some teachers would rather continue teaching and not lose two days to take a test. Other teachers see finals as a good way to get students ready for the future.

“Finals take the quality time out of class room instruction,” Paul Cibaric, SPASH teacher, said. “I would rather have those two days to continue teaching.”

Many teachers see finals as an opportunity to get students ready for finals at universities.

“I think finals are a good idea. After SPASH students go different directions and finals better prepare them to be more successful,” Steve Harris, SPASH teacher, said. “It’s not about the grade but about the processes of preparing for a test. It’s a good learning opportunity.”