Finals season is approaching, and our experience is… nonexistent?

Finals season is approaching, and our experience is... nonexistent?

As the end of the school year swiftly approaches, the freshmen of Centennial are preparing their minds for their first ever high school final exam… and so are the sophomores and juniors. For the last couple of years, this year’s juniors and sophomores have worked through a digital format, and, because of all the challenges associated with virtual learning, midterms and finals were canceled during those years. Even more recently, the Board of Education canceled the 2021-2022 midterms on account of students’ mental health and COVID-19 still being a massive threat. As a result, no junior or sophomore has taken or final – until now.

With the difficulty of recent tests and projects leading up to the final exams, many fear  the potential difficulty associated with final exams.

Nobody expected the finals, and certainly not [for] ten percent of our grade,” asserted sophomore Viraj Janeja. “By throwing a single grade at us worth enough to shove aside any effort put into the year, it puts a lot more effort on students to study for that much content.” 

Janeja clearly does not favor the current system of finals, which is a consequence of not having midterms this year in order to comfort students struggling through two pandemic school years, and most others seem to agree with his viewpoints. Students have only about a week to prepare for finals because of hefty workloads before these exams, and then they have extracurricular activities, jobs, and other things to contend with when trying to study for finals. Admittedly, much of the rigor associated with finals has to do with the level of classes people are taking, but Centennial is renowned for its course rigor and the academic success of its student body, so there is a lot of pressure on students’ shoulders. Having to take finals in difficult sophomore or junior classes with zero prior experience will be a tall task, that’s for sure – they are all basically freshmen in this regard. 

Having no experience also makes it feel harder for students’ brains to store massive amounts of information for the long term, meaning that students will likely have to study everything they learned over the year just to have a basic recollection of all second semester information. For students in AP classes, this makes the finals especially difficult because they already cram-studied for AP exams and forgot most of the course material afterwards. Chad H. Van Iddekinge of Florida State University and his colleagues did review 81 studies investigating the link between an employee’s prior work experience and his or her performance in a new organization and found no significant correlation between the two.  Could the same be true of students in a classroom setting? Or are students just overreacting to having to take finals? Only time will tell – and maybe some stats.

On an informal survey taken by 24 students, 66.7% of them feel that they are unprepared for finals, and only 25% claimed to be ready for finals (which is six students, some of whom were seniors filling out the form for fun). This statistic suggests that most of Centennial’s sophomores and juniors feel the heat when it comes to finals season, but others are feeling less anxious.

One incredibly valid argument as to why students’ perceptions of finals season are so negative is the pandemic warped their work threshold and their understanding of the ease of high school work. Of course, passing school during the pandemic was nothing to scoff at, especially with teachers exploring more intuitive and effective ways to teach virtually in the second pandemic year (2020-2021). It was much easier than in-person school, though, due to the lack of personal interaction, a reduced number of classes per semester, workday Wednesdays, and, of course, having Google up and ready for any situation. As a result of that leisure, returning back to the normal rigor of in-person school shocked many students, and finals season has become more frightening for students because of it. Some students, however, have rebounded from the pandemic stronger than ever and are ready to take on the rigor that was commonplace prior to the pandemic.

“I haven’t studied, but I don’t have the time to be nervous about finals,” claimed sophomore Varshitha Kasiraman. “I am confident in what I know. How bad could it be?” Despite her comments about time management, she clearly seems to be optimistic about taking the finals. After all, the teachers have been instructing students in detail and giving us quizzes to prepare for a final, so if students have paid attention and acquired good grades in preparation for the final, they should theoretically perform well.

Ready or not, the sophomores and juniors of Centennial must take their final exams, and will more than likely be ready. Centennial students routinely surpass the expectations of those around them, and even though the lack of experience and preparedness will have a tangible effect on students’ composure and performances, they will overcome this challenge.


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