Finals need to be replaced by essays, projects

Every week the editorial board reflects on a current issue in Our View. The position taken does not reflect the opinions of everyone on the Hilltop Views staff.

Most students have started to think about their finals, which will take place May 5-8. For many students, finals are unnecessary; essays, projects or oral presentations would be a much better option.

Circling answers on a multiple-choice test does not mean students have learned anything — they just studied for the test. Cramming for a cumulative exam three hours beforehand benefits neither the teacher nor the student. Teachers claim that studying for finals reinforces the information. However, essays, projects and other types of graded works give students the time it takes to get motivated and revise what becomes their final grades.

Teachers must understand that memorization is not learning. Writing an essay or preparing a presentation allows students to solidify the knowledge they have gained in a class. Experiencing information in different formats re-enhances it in the brain. By being able to actually put the class material into a working presentation or logical text, students are able to actively learn and see the value in what they’re being taught.

Assigning an essay or project relieves students of the anxiety that may come with having an off day while testing. A student’s performance on a final exam does not always accurately depict his or her knowledge, as he or she may be anxious, distracted, etc. Plus, those of us who cram all night long are left running on a lack of sleep and caffeine withdrawal.

Allowing students to peer review other works and go to the writing center, which can work on any type of project, not just essays, is valuable and can help a student’s final product. Rather than spending time making flash cards and cramming for a test, students can spend time polishing their essay. Also, it prevents the library study rooms from being booked three weeks in advance. It is embarrassing for everyone when the library staff is called to kick people out of a booked study room.

Another way finals week drives students to the brink is through the timing. Students are forced to prioritize which class to study for first and which grade can take a hit. Students with finals on consecutive days often become overwhelmed. Those with more than one final per day spend hours in one room and only move to get to their next test. Already, the second test of the day is being done by a student who is drained and apathetic.

Essays, projects and oral presentations should replace finals. By completing them, students learn more, avoid mental breakdowns and are able to present a more thorough final project. It may be easier for teachers to grade multiple choice tests, but staring at letters for hours at a time gets overwhelming, and it doesn’t show the teacher an accurate portrayal of a student’s ability.