Fall Exams Are Needed

Junior Alivia Wynn learns about the Election of 1824 through Dr. Christine Carter’s launchpad progress check. Photo: Bennett Boushka

Some schools across Atlanta are beginning to cut fall exams. However, exams in both the fall and the spring are necessary to keep students invested and attentive in their classes throughout the year. Students who do not have an exam at the end of each semester run the risk of not fully understanding and internalizing concepts.

Instead, students will rely on only retaining information for the test, for there is no need to recall anything later. For example, information learned about Egypt in September will go unreviewed until May; the student will probably learn the material for the test, forget it and then relearn it before the exam. With no exams at the end of a semester, students lose focus with the thought of holiday or summer break on the horizon. 

Believe it or not, not having fall exams can actually bring more stress upon students. All of the teachers will be pressing to get final grades in as the semester comes to a close, and students will have assessments and projects due within the last two weeks. This will create an unnecessary amount of anxiety for students as they have to balance normal school life with these extra assessments. Furthermore, coaches and extracurricular leaders will not adjust their rigorous schedules, simply adding more items to students’ agendas. 

Fall exams, on the other hand, promote full internalization of concepts, and students realize that if they learn it in a way that they understand, it will be much easier to remember it for the exam. For example, in freshman physics instead of memorizing the formulas for gravitational pull, the students learn why effective radius and mass affects gravitational pull, making the formula intuitive. A study by the American Psychological Association states that students who have to recall information at least once a month have twice the chance of remembering it in the long term.   

Holy Innocents’ near Pace experimented with only having exams at the end of the year, but the school has now moved back to two exam periods. “The information on the exam was a lot more broad,” said Holy Innocents’ junior Kate Bell. She reported that having only one exam at the end of the year caused teachers to only ask broad based questions about material covered from first semester, meaning students did not have to retrieve a deep level of understanding.

Exams also offer a structure that is beneficial to students. Teachers plan to finish their material with enough time to review the information, thereby giving students less homework leading up to exams. This allows students to study in advance, creating an opportunity for reduced stress levels the night before. Although the thought of exams still frightens students, if they utilize their time wisely, review throughout the semester and get help from their teachers, exams should be nothing to worry about.

Students’ time is not just consumed by school. Most students participate in many extracurricular activities. The leaders of these activities know the students need extra time to study and prepare before and during exams. Activity leaders and coaches adjust accordingly, making the work load for exam week and the prior week lighter than normal. Coaches have also required players to attend no phone study halls to ensure an environment where their players are focused and preparing for exams.

Fall exams are productive and help students’ academic careers in the long run.


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