Its that time of year again


Students prepare to take their finals in Donald DeSalvo’s Financial Literacy class. Photographer Vivian Aviles.

Vivian Aviles, Reporter

As the semester approaches its end, the dreaded finals week gets closer. How do finals strain mental health, and how are students preparing themselves?

Finals week is an extremely stressful time for all high school students. Having to know the material in each unit that was taught is overwhelming.

On top of the stress that comes with taking finals, they also begin the last week of the semester, meaning that grades are being finalized as well. While students are turning in last minute assignments, extra credit, or trying to get their grades up, they must also be studying for their exams. Final exams can have a detrimental effect on a student’s grade.

During finals week, stress levels among students spike very high. As of recently, the percentage of students between ages 14-25 who reported exam stress rose from 51% to 65%.* Because stress is a very common feeling, the effects of it go unnoticed. However, while stress may just be stress to most people, it has been linked to migraines, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.**

“Finals are about three weeks away and I’m already feeling stressed. I feel even more stressed because I haven’t even been told if I’m having a final in my classes besides math and physics. My physics final will be on everything we’ve learned up to this point,” said junior Alice Duska, Div. 118.

Though there is no way to completely relieve feelings of stress when it comes to finals, one way to help rid of stress would be for each student to actively participate in class throughout the semester and take all their tests seriously. Studies show that participation increases the ability to retain information, as well as provide a deeper understanding of a concept.***

Another way to help ease stress is for teachers to inform their classes a few weeks beforehand about whether they will be taking a final or not, and if so, what it will be on. This way, students will have more time to prepare rather than having to cram for 6 exams last minute.

One of the best ways to prepare for an exam is to begin studying about a month prior. It’s scientifically proven that studying over the course of a long period of time will improve long term retention. In fact, cramming for a test has a negative impact on retention as it increases feelings of anxiety and stress.****

Aside from studying way ahead of time, it is also beneficial to do things such as create a study guide or make note cards.***** The environment in which studying happens is also important, places like coffee shops are a good option as research shows that being in a coffee shop increases creativity, alertness, and the ability to learn.******

“I like to go by myself or with a friend to Starbucks. Being there puts me in a more productive mood, and I definitely get more done there than I would at home,” said junior Sarah Shilwa, Div. 127.

Finals are not all that effective in measuring a student’s academic progress, and this is why they are thought of so negatively. There are so many units to cover and things to remember, so how is a student expected to retain all five months worth of information?

If the way finals are given was to be altered, they could be seen as a good thing. If a student already has an A in a class, they should be excused from taking a final as they have already proven to demonstrate their understanding of what is being taught. For those with a B or lower, finals should be a chance to improve their grades, and if they fail the exam, no harm should be done. One study showed that the stress of a final has caused 34 percent of students to perform poorly on the exam, making finals an inaccurate way to test someone knowledge anyway.

“I usually have A’s, so it’s unfair that I have to spend so much time studying for an exam that could lower my grade when I have already managed to show that I understand what’s going on,” said junior Modesti Rivera, Div. 130.

Finals week causes stress for the majority of high school students, and while there are ways to calm anxious or stressful feelings that occur during this time, finals are still an inaccurate way of testing the knowledge of a student.