Finals Are Back(ish) This Semester For Minnetonka High School Students

Annabelle Fung, Staff Writer

Web Editor’s Note: The finals schedule has since been updated.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought numerous changes throughout society and the world: jobs lost, schools closed, businesses shut down. Students and teachers have also been heavily impacted, especially when school moved online, and everyone had to adapt to these changes. One major change to the academic curriculum was the cancellation of finals. In previous years, students took these high-pressure exams at the end of a semester to demonstrate their understanding of the course material. In their original form, finals counted for 10% of students’ overall grade in a course.

Elizabeth Eichler, a mathematics teacher at Minnetonka High School, said that a main reason that finals were canceled was because teachers and administrators “already knew tests weren’t secure, so to have a large portion of the grade represented by a test that we weren’t sure actually represented the knowledge just wasn’t a good idea.”

Despite the absence of the final exam, classes still offered a final culminating assessment before the end of the semester.

“Even though some classes didn’t have finals, they still had some sort of exam covering the majority of the context of the semester,” said Britney Dang, ‘22, in reference to the time period where students were learning virtually. 

Although there were different types of assessments used to evaluate a student’s understanding of a topic, it was difficult for teachers to get an accurate depiction of students’ knowledge because some may have different disadvantages or advantages during e-learning.

“E-learning reduced my ability to manage time well and effectively deal with stress,” said Sonia Pillai, ‘24. “During e-learning, I never had much homework to do, leading me to have a surplus of time. This year is quite the opposite, as I have seemingly endless amounts of homework.” 

This year, as things are beginning to return back to normal, the finals schedule is back on but without the 10% final exams. This year, students will experience a culminating assessment, just like they did during e-learning. Eichler believes this final assessment will look different in each department, and they will not look like they have traditionally.

Eichler said that she plans to have a test where there will be “questions that [the teachers] think will really represent this year on a test. The test is going to be a regular summative and it will be more like a mini summary of the 8 chapters we have done.”

  Adjusting back to the finals schedule might be difficult for some students, as many are not used to it.  

“The biggest challenge [to] approaching finals will be managing stress and anxiety,” said Pillai. 

She pointed out that ninth and tenth graders have not had the opportunity to experience the finals schedule yet. In addition to that, eleventh and twelfth graders have not had this schedule in nearly two years. 

As a senior who remembers this experience, Dang said, “[finals] would definitely add a layer of stress compared to e-learning, but finals are still a good way to assess students’ grasp on the content overall.”

The pandemic has caused many different transformations to society. Finals week can either be beneficial or detrimental to students, and the new approach to it this year will definitely be something that students and teachers will need to find a way to adapt to.