Traditional final exams need to go

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Photo by Adam Monnette

Final exams are supposed to be a way of checking for retained mastery of class material. Instead, they test the ability to cram and memorize information before you forget it again.

Adam Monnette, Live Media Manager

20 percent of a semester grade is determined in 90 minutes by one test, and not having to deal with them is a blessing I have greatly enjoyed.

The idea of one assignment carrying so much weight sounds crazy, and that’s because it is. Final exams are supposed to be a test that represents your retention of knowledge. However, the only thing they actually measure is how good you are at studying for a test.

When students have an upcoming test, some students, including myself, will study, and then after the test, dump the information since it is no longer useful. The reason why I may use this method on most finals is that I am not going to need to know what the color red symbolizes in A Scarlet Letter, or how many grams eight moles of nitrogen weighs.

High school is supposed to help students prepare for life outside of school. While some jobs make you take a test or complete a project for seeing if you understand how to do your job, not all jobs will. Rather, most of them see and evaluate your performance on a project that benefits the company and represents the skills you have. 

If teachers and administrators want students to be assessed on class material, then they should give projects or long-term assignments. These projects would be able to grade on mastery from the class and they would also help with necessary life skills such as time management and the need to work collaboratively and productively. 

The vast majority of the jobs after high school or college are going to require us to work or at least talk with other people. Having a project that reinforces collaborative discussions is going to be infinitely more helpful than taking a multiple-choice question exam about the derivative of a tangent line.

Not only would being able to work together with others on big projects help prepare students for the real world, but learning how to manage time and be productive with that time is also vital in the professional world.

While project-based assessments seem to be the better way to get a grade, more work is required of teachers, students, and administrators to give us exams that not only reinforce the material we were taught but also teach us valuable skills that will help us into professional careers. 

The next time a teacher assigns a group project, instead of worrying about how much work there is to do, understand that these projects will help you more than a test will.