Stop administering final exams

Susan Cardone

Final exams are stressful for everyone. Many students spend hours upon hours making sure that they are prepared for an exam that could make or break their grade. 

These high-stakes exams put too much pressure on students who often have already proved they know the material.

UT should get rid of final exams as they do not measure a student’s actual knowledge nor is there any real-world application for them. Instead of giving high-stakes final exams that are stressful and unnecessary, professors should use other methods, like projects or weekly quizzes, to continuously measure students’ progress throughout the semester.

Architecture professor Larry Speck noted that giving a sort of “killer” final does not accurately reflect students’ knowledge of the semester’s material, especially those who might be having an off day come exam time.

“I don’t think that the killer final that’s a huge percentage of your grade is a good way to evaluate students’ performance,” Speck said. “It’s too much stress, too much pressure.”

There are better ways a student can demonstrate their understanding than a taxing, cumulative final exam. 

Assignments such as weekly check-ins or discussion posts can demonstrate a student’s growth throughout the semester. Other assignments, like shorter papers or projects that are split up over the semester, provide students a better opportunity to prove what they know, receive feedback and revise to make their work better. As opposed to a final exam, the student is both actively showing what they have learned while continuing that learning through constructive criticism and revision over the course of the semester.

Admittedly, the format, subject and size of the class can make it difficult for professors to measure students’ understanding in ways other than a final exam at the end of the semester. That’s why it’s important to measure students’ comprehension of the material over the course of the semester through various methods to avoid an unnecessary final exam.

Studies show that cramming for a final exam works for regurgitation the next day but does not actually ensure long-term retention of the material. 

“(Final exams) put a lot of pressure on the student to perform well on one exam that will determine their grade in their class, despite their previous efforts,” aerospace engineering sophomore Trieu Tran said.

Most of the time, final exams don’t measure a student’s understanding of material — it just measures how well they can take a test. 

Armoni Snow, human development and family sciences sophomore, agreed that papers and projects throughout the semester are more beneficial than final exams.

“(Final) exams aren’t a measure of intelligence, just how well you can memorize,” Snow said.

As a college student, I am predispositioned to not like final exams. However, I am not advocating the removal of finals simply because I do not like them. They are truly unnecessary and stressful, and there are better ways to measure a student’s success.

Get rid of final exams, and let students show their growth and understanding in more beneficial and equitable ways. They can, and they will.

Cardone is a government and social work sophomore from San Antonio, Texas.