Common Ground

Destressing Before Finals

Alyssa Bloom

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Taking finals are a stressful time for students studying for multiple exams. For some students stressing over finals doesn’t help with taking the exams and maybe it even makes it harder to take the exams. If Harwood Union High School had a time in the day where students and teachers go to a space in the school where they can draw and color and have snacks and talk with friends and take some of the stress off from all the studying and being able to enjoy the end of the year. We all need to relieve stress every once in a while, so why not in a positive way?

I went around and asked teachers what they thought Harwood could do as a school to make finals week less stressful and why.

 “The idea that every course should give a high-stakes comprehensive exam during the same week is ridiculous. Perhaps, different subjects could give their summative exams on different weeks?” CSC teacher, Matt Henchen said.

Not everyone would agree that getting rid of finals week would be a good idea. Some would say that it’s the best way to see how well the students understand the materials that they have been learning throughout the year. Others say how they just don’t accurately capture how well the students understand the material. Also, both teachers and students find the final exam process exhausting mentally and physically, whether studying for or grading. This has a negative impact over those who are actually taking the test themselves and having exhaustion often compromise their scores.

I think we could look at some of the brain research about the most effective ways to prepare for assessments. Students and  teachers should know about the material that will be covered on an exam well in advance of the exam date. Studying for shorter duration over more days is much more effective for information to truly move into long term memory. I also think we could be using some mindful strategies before an exam or while preparing for an exam that can alleviate the stress level.” said Ellen Berrings, Next Step Coordinator.

The most common techniques on how to study are things such as highlighting, keyword mnemonic, rereading, and making notecards. If students were to use these to study about an hour each night for a week instead of cramming it all in the night before the exam day.

“Exams should be a way for students to demonstrate what they know and can do in a meaningful way. They should not be sources of stress for students or teachers.” said Ellen Berrings, Next Step Coordinator.

For multiple students test taking is not a strong area but they can get good grades and show that they know the material through classwork and homework; in cases like these, why do schools need to have finals week when all it does is cause stress for both teachers and students.

Students and teachers may have different feelings about exams and the stress level of them and what it does to them physically and mentally. Wanting to see the different opinions on this topic, I also wanted to ask some students both lower and higher classmen what their perspective was and how they would feel about having this time of year not to be so stressful, and how we could do that.

“I agree with having time to relax and just chill in class the week before finals, but I also think we should get some time to review in class with the teacher and be able to check in with them if we need to, so we are not as stressed as we were before,”  said Rachel Bloom, a Sophomore student.   

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The student news site of Harwood Union Middle/High School in South Duxbury, Vermont
Destressing Before Finals