Junior Sophie Blasberg works diligently to get a head start on studying for her only spring exam. Photo: Sarah Kitchen
For most Pace students, especially upperclassmen, exam week serves as the only thing obstructing them from the excitement that summer has to offer. Other schools in the area, including Whitefield and Woodward Academy, allow the option of exempting exams in AP and honors courses if the students have above a certain average. The numerous advantages to changing exam policies favor students, teachers and the Pace administration.
Theoretically, if a student has an 88 average in a given class, they roughly understand 88% of the material. Even intense studying and review for some of the more challenging topics may not be enough to guarantee an exam grade adequate to benefit their average. From my experience and observations, exams always lower averages or have no effect. It is very difficult to score a 97 on an exam even if you have an average around that area. Exams usually do not help improve GPAs.
In addition to their little-to-negative impact on an average, exams can also cause unneeded stress. Sophomores and juniors who are enrolled in AP courses are already faced with the horror of AP exams in early May. While AP scores may not be as important as averages to some admission officers and parents, they provide an opportunity to get an advantage as you start college. Unfortunately, whether you had a 92 or 96 in your Algebra II class will make no impact on your college course requirements. However, a score of 4 or 5 on an AP History exam may exempt you from having to take a history class again in college. This is particularly beneficial for those who would rather focus on math and science in college, just as doing well on AP science and math exams may appeal to those who are drawn towards the humanities.
Students should still be given the option to take their final exams if they want to, but making this a choice would please most students. Teachers would also enjoy a few extra days of summer if they only have a handful of exams to grade.
By eliminating unnecessary tests, students can have more time to focus on their weaker classes, relieving stress and increasing understanding. Additional days can also provide opportunities for group studying and receiving help from teachers. Exam week would become less of a punishment and more of an opportunity. With every group in the Pace community benefiting from exempting exams, it is baffling why we haven’t adopted this new policy.