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An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

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Final exams should not be required in AP classes

Lily Rachwalski
Midtown High School mandates final exams or alternative assignments like presentations or projects in all classes. Prioritizing AP exam preparation over final exams by dropping the requirement in AP classes could lead to better outcomes for students and alleviate end-of-year stress.

All Atlanta Public Schools (APS) students are required to either take a final exam or to complete an assignment in place of the exam. Because of this, many students in Advanced Placement (AP) classes this year are now having to prepare for both their AP exams and their final exams. Although some teachers at Midtown are dropping their final exam requirements for students taking the AP exam, many teachers are requiring students to take both. This practice is pointless and harmful as it increases stress for both students and teachers. Due to this effect, Midtown students who are signed up to take the AP exam in a specific class should not be required to take the final exam.

In the majority of classes, final exams are cumulative and test the entire material in a course. As such, there’s no reason for students to take a final exam when they are already being tested on that same material through the AP exam. AP exams are also more effective at testing students than final exams as they are often more comprehensive. According to the College Board, the questions for AP exams are written by content experts and undergo several rounds of review. These questions are much more likely to gauge students’ content understanding accurately than questions on final exams, which are written by teachers or recycled from other sources.

In addition to being less effective, final exams test the same content as AP exams without meaningfully increasing a student’s mastery of the course curriculum. While they can use AP exams to get college credit, students gain nothing besides a grade from also taking a final exam. This year, seniors’ final exams also took place during the first week of AP exams. This means that some seniors had to miss their final exams in a specific AP class in order to take the AP test, and subsequently had to make up the final exam after the seniors’ last day of school.

In requiring final exams, APS is creating a redundancy that may prevent some seniors from receiving their final grades or even graduating. Not only that, but teachers would also benefit from removing finals for students taking AP exams. As AP exams are more effective for students than finals, the extra work to give a final is unnecessary for teachers as well. The College Board is already producing a comprehensive final and giving teachers useful data about students through the test. Instead of writing and grading finals, teachers could instead focus more on the AP exams and getting through all of the course material in time.

Some teachers use their final exams as practice for the AP exams since they believe students will prepare for AP exams while studying for their finals. While this is true, students would benefit more if that time was used for AP test preparation. For example, they could give students practice AP exams or review materials instead of a final exam, reducing the end-of-year workloads for students. It would also give students more time to study for their AP exams and improve their chances of scoring higher, increasing the likelihood of gaining college credit.

Holding finals for students taking AP exams is not only unhelpful and redundant, but it also places an unnecessary burden on students and teachers. If Midtown drops the final requirement for AP students, it would benefit both students and teachers in the extremely busy end-of-year period. Furthermore, dropping the final exam requirement for students taking AP exams may encourage more students to take AP exams, potentially benefiting the school’s reputation if those students score well.

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About the Contributor
Lily Rachwalski
Lily Rachwalski, Website Managing Editor
Lily is a junior and is excited to start her third year with the Southerner. Apart from her writing with the Southerner, Lily is a Georgia Scholastic Press Association (GSPA) student ambassador, representing both the Southerner and Georgia journalism as a whole. She is an active member of Latin club and plays ultimate frisbee for both Midtown and cATLanta, Georgia's under-20 club team. In her free time, you can find her hanging out with friends and family.

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