Cummiskey’s Corner: Should Students Be Allowed to Exempt Finals?


by Nelson Cummiskey


It’s the most… stressful time of the year? Finals are the worst and no one knows that better than a high school or college student. But what if you didn’t have to be stressed? What if you couldn’t take your finals because you’ve already earned a grade in that class that shows you mastered it? Well, there are some schools that already do that. Exempting finals is a great option for students and schools because it causes less stress for a student who knows the material already, and creates less demand on teachers and staff. A stress-free end of the term is the best result for strong student to unwind after a long semester of deadlines and due dates.

According to Mila Abushmaies of Mlive, finals serve one purpose: “To give students who did not demonstrate understanding in a class one last chance to raise their grade.” This begs the question, what about the other kids?

The students who maintain an “A” average all year tend to be the ones that are the most conscientious. This means that they study the most, care the most, and tend to stress about tests the most. These students see finals as a necessity to passing and must review all the material for the semester in one week (if they are lucky enough to have a teacher that doesn’t teach until the test). The kids who perform higher also tend to take classes with more rigor. This means they have six other difficult classes as well as the typical teacher who says, “Study hard; it’s just another test.” What teachers seem to forget is that a student has SIX other classes to memorize the whole semester for, and then has to spill all that information out on a piece of paper within the same week.

One way to avoid this stress would be to make the kids who have proved their mastery over the subjects a ticket out of having to take all of these brutal tests. One argument against exemptions is that these kids need to know the material anyway, so why not just take the test? The answer is simply…technology. In the workplace, there is usually some computer that a person can look up what they need to know, so what is the point of memorizing it in the first place?

A common argument made by people who don’t believe that students should exempt finals is that taking them in high school prepares you for taking finals in college. However, taking finals in college is a whole different ballgame. A college course is typically not every day and usually consists of lecture upon lecture upon lecture that contains information that can be found on the internet. This means tests and quizzes are the only things students really need to show up for, and that the final is basically all the course has. CLARIFY? Also, in college the students are usually studying something that is required to know in the field that the student wishes to join. In high school, there are many required courses; some of which the student may have little interest in, may be weak in, or may never use it ever in their lives again, so why do they need to know all of it?

Possible solutions could be either 1). all classes get final exemptions for students with some sort of grade standard, or 2). a limited number of classes can be exempt with a grade standard. The benefits of final exemptions for all classes is that they students who did well won’t need to stress over information they have already learned and mastered. Other benefits include how students can choose which classes to exempt because they aren’t planning on using those skills in their future endeavors.

abasket. “High School Exam Exemptions – Pros/Cons.” College Confidential, Apr. 2010,               pros-cons.html.

Staff, Kalamazoo Gazette. “Should Students with a High A in a Class Be Able to Opt out of       the Final Exam? (Our Turn Column).”, MLive, 15  Oct. 2011,       a.html



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