Do Traditional Finals Actually Help Us?

by Catherine Arjet

opinions editor

Every semester as finals approach I find myself thinking the same thing: What are finals doing for me? Why am I spending hours in the library cramming for a test when I know I’m going to forget most of the stuff I “learned” by next semester? How is this helping me lead a better life after college or even become a more productive member of society? In my opinion, it’s not. At least not the traditional closed note final.

This semester I’m taking a class where every test has been open book, open notes and open Internet. Because I know I could look up a term or a date if I needed to, I spend all of my study time for this class making sure I understand the concepts on a deeper level than what fits on the back of a flashcard. I feel like I’ve actually learned information that will be applicable to my career. And if I do need to know one of those terms or dates, I can discreetly Google in on my phone. Because I have had this opportunity this semester, I have found myself wondering why I need to have the information from my other classes memorized. When in my life am I going to desperately need to know some random fact and not have my phone or a computer around to figure it out? I’m not just talking about classes outside of my majors (although I know we all like to complain about those). I’m talking about classes in our majors that relate directly to our future careers. With the wealth of information we have available at our fingertips, it doesn’t make sense to make us learn facts we can find out in less than a minute on our phones.

There are, though, two good arguments in favor of finals based on memorization. Firstly, if you plan on taking any tests like the MCAT or the CPA exam, you will need to know the specific concepts covered on them.. The second pro-finals point is that they teach us how to handle large amounts of stress. This is something we will face in the workplace, but it is also something that can be easily achieved with papers, projects and even open note finals.

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