Students with an A should be excused from finals


Emma Johnson, Photographer

As the end of the semester approaches, so does the inescapable burden of finals. Cue the last minute studying, desperately trying to remember information learned back in August. Slowly the fear approaches that the grade you’ve worked for all semester could be lost due to one bad test score.

All of this stress presents a bigger problem: one test shouldn’t determine 10-20 percent of students’ grades if they have proven mastery in the subject all year. This is why students who have an A in a class should be excused from the final. Not only is this a great incentive for students to keep their grades up throughout the semester, but it also allows them the time to focus on other classes where they are struggling.

High school finals are meant to prepare students for college finals. However, students already take countless tests throughout the year that cover months of knowledge which already prepares them for collegiate test taking. Additionally, under a plan where students with an A are exempted from finals, most students would have to take at least a few finals each semester. For those who would end up taking no finals, they will often take AP exams, which in turn provide these students a more rigorous testing experience.

Saint Thomas Aquinas High School uses a waiver system that exempts students from taking their finals. Under the system, students who have an 86 percent or above in their classes have the option on whether or not they want to take the final. If they have a 96 percent or above, they are completely exempt from the final and don’t have the option to take it. This system also includes certain disciplinary measures to ensure accountability. For example, students are only allowed two absences, three dress code violations, six tardies and two cell phone violations in order to be exempt from a final.

“If a student has maintained such a high grade in the course, they know the material well enough,” STA Principal of Academic Services Craig Moss said. “The final, in that instance, could only hurt their grade, so rather than punish the student by making them take the final, the decision was made that the student would be exempt and not have to show up to take the final exam, and their final grade in the course would be what they had earned up to that point.”

If a student has maintained such a high grade in the course, they know the material well enough

— Craig Moss

STA sophomore Maddy Terril said the waiver system motivates her to keep her grades high enough to be exempt from her finals. The system also allows her more time to study for the finals she is either required to take, or chooses to take because she has a lower grade.

If Northwest were to adopt a waiver system similar to this, it should be based solely on students’ grades in a class, not mandatory attendance. When too many requirements are involved, the original purpose of the waiver, which is to excuse students from finals, gets lost.

Terril said since students at Aquinas can only miss two days of school each semester, they will go to extremes to keep their waiver, even if it takes showing up to school ill.

“I would change the amount of school you can miss because kids will come to school super sick just so they can keep their waiver,” Terril said.

BVNW Principal of Curriculum and Instruction, Tyler Alexander, said that while the goal of finals are to prepare students for college, finals often leave students stressed trying to prepare for so many in such a short period of time.

“We are constantly talking about what finals we should give in different courses,” Alexander said. “As a building and within different departments, teachers talk about it a lot, still trying to find a way that is supportive of students but still measures the goals of the class.”

With the pressures students are under, exempting students with an A from finals is in no way letting them off easy. Rather, it would commend them on the work they’ve done over the semester while allowing more time to focus on classes they have lower grades in, resulting in higher finals scores.

This upcoming semester, we should implement a trial system for excusing students with an A from finals. With an education system that is ever-changing, finals are one of the only things that has stayed constant. The time has come to take a step back and take a deeper look at the outdated system of finals, changing them for the benefit of modern students.