Should Finals be Before or After Break?


Finals are upon San Marcos, and for many it is the most stressful time of the year.  Finals are extremely important to many students for their academic success and are taken very seriously. However, controversy arises when finals are given because of the timing that it has. Students are given a two week winter break for Christmas, New Years and any other holiday they may celebrate. Those two weeks are cherished for our time off but are dampened when students realize they must come back to the final two weeks of the semester and finals along with it. The question has arised whether finals should be given before or after winter break, and almost every student including myself has the same answer. 

Asking senior Nicky Fell, he voices his disapproval with the finals schedule saying, “I come back from break and immediately have a weight on my shoulders. My break is put behind me as I have to study and work for my finals before the next semester.” Having a two week break causes us to lose the information we have taken in the weeks before, and when we come back we have to go right back to work with an added level of stress. School already stresses me out as it is, so finals are the last straw for me sometimes.  

Photo courtesy of Jonah Landwehr-Askew

Another question that often arises is whether non common core classes such as art or psychology should have a final. Juniors Kai Fiscalini and Adrian Barazza both believe that electives shouldn’t have a final so that students may focus on their common core classes. Many students, including myself, share the same thought, but junior Kai Binder had an idea as to how to solve the issue. “Elective classes are still important, but they shouldn’t be given the same weight as a common core class. A final project or a final with less of a grade weight would create the same feeling of a final with less pressure compared to common core classes.” This very well could be a possible solution along with moving finals to before winter break. Final exams are a stressful time no matter what grade you are in, so taking measures to reduce anxiety would be beneficial to the entire Santa Barbara school district. 

Personally, finals are easily the most stressful part of any year. I have never been a good test taker, and when it is a test with even more added stress, I shut down and my scores don’t reflect what I have really learned. Finals seem to be an unfair reflection of students’ true knowledge, especially after a two week break where we lose everything we learned. Under the right format, finals could be a great way to finish a semester, but the way they are now causes unneeded stress for everyone involved, teachers included. If I were able to change how finals are given, I would first make finals before winter break, and have our third semester start when we come back. 

If I were to change anything about our finals schedule, it would be having finals before winter break. We deserve to enjoy the holidays without finals looming over us, it should be a time where we are allowed to relax and forget about school for a while. I do not think elective classes should have a final because they are not as scrutinized by colleges and universities as much as common core classes. We choose our electives and we should be able to enjoy them without having to worry about a final that could cause our grade to plummet before the new semester. As much as I wish finals weren’t necessary, they are essential to the college process and should be conducted at the end of every semester. With the added stress, lowering the weight of the final could reduce anxiety for students who struggle to take tests. I know that I would feel much more confident about finals if they did not count to an enormous portion of my grade, and I am sure many students would feel the same.