Finals: Perspectives on Start Times and Duration

Students+hit+the+books+to+prepare+for+Finals+2020.+Online+finals+changed+the+traditional+study+methods+for+a+number+of+students.

Ava Bearskin

Students hit the books to prepare for Finals 2020. Online finals changed the traditional study methods for a number of students.

Ava Bearskin, Editor-in-Chief

2020 has presented multiple challenges, and students still have to get through finals before 2020 can finally be over. Pattonville High is modifying finals, so all finals will be taken over Zoom from home. Each class final will be an hour-long instead of the normal hour and a half. Teachers have modified the finals to fit the time restraints, but there are no changes in regards to the time the finals actually start.

Finals will start promptly at 7:23, like normal class does. Monday will have first through fourth-hour finals with a lunch break after third hour, ending at 12:35 pm. Tuesday will have hours five through seven, ending at 10:35am. This begs the question: should the time of finals have been changed since they’re online and shorter?

Lauren McDaniel, a sophomore, likes that the start time for finals remained the same. “I think the start time of the finals is good because that’s the time finals usually starts with normal schedules, so it’s nice to have something be the same.” She’s happy to have all the finals done early in the day to have the rest of the day to relax or study.

Coach Thames agrees that “there isn’t a better time to start/end finals. If students were in-school 5 days a week, students would have to take their first final at 7:23 am. Also, with the way Christmas break falls this year, we just have to make adjustments and make the most of it. You will not please everyone.” He thinks that because everything is different right now and since the finals are online, the school just has to adjust accordingly and do the best they can.

Sophomore Dominick Austin disagrees. “Finals should start around 12 ish right after lunchtime so students are more awake and they have time to relax and prepare. Waking up and taking a final at 7:23 isn’t the best for the mental health of high school students.” He believes that productivity will decrease on tests because of the early morning start.

Ultimately, PHS head principal Dr. Dobrinic had the final call on the start time of finals. “We didn’t consider [starting finals later]. In hindsight, it probably would’ve been a little worthwhile to go go that route, but with that said, the tradeoff on that is being done early. We’re getting out pretty late [date wise], the 22nd. We took that into consideration. Giving more breaks is stretching the day out.”

An article from the Hufflepost says that the peak of intellectual and cognitive abilities is in the morning. The research illustrates that it is best to take tests around 8 am and test scores drop by 1% each hour that the test is taken afterward. It is also important to have breaks of 20-50 minutes in between each test that is being taken in order to achieve higher scores. Unfortunately, Pattonville is only giving students a 6-minute break in between tests.

Another change with finals is the time frame to take each final from an hour and a half like it was previously, to an hour. Teachers had to modify their finals from previous years to fit into the new time constraint. Many teachers reduced the final percentage from 20% to 10% of students’ grades.

Dominick comments, “Personally I’m not concerned about the time constraint because of my classes and a lot of them are multiple-choice and seem fairly simple but I would love to have more time so I don’t feel pressured to finish something that is worth so much of my final grade,” in regards to the new time restraints on finals.

Dr. Dobrinic explains that by shortening finals, he wanted to help the students do better on finals and have a more concise final because of the difficulties presented this school year. “We wanted to take a look at not going too deep with expectations on finals. We wanted to scale it back with the hopes that the tests or exams that the teachers put together would take into consideration what we’ve been going through this year and what the students have been going through this year and how incredibly difficult it’s been to learn at the level we’ve learned at in the past. We hoped that they wouldn’t be quite as vast; hence the reason why we limited the time.”

Finals are also entirely online. “You have different groups of students coming different days. That would’ve really stretched the final exam process out,” says Dr. Dobrinic. He also comments that the district decided to make the 22nd online for K-12 and since Monday was already all online and finals are always the last two to three days of school before break, it made sense to just do them online. “We met with the department leaders and proposed a couple different ideas and basically the consensus was that we do final exams virtually on Monday and Tuesday.”

Finals are a stressful time for a lot of students. Here are some tips on how to survive finals week with good grades.