Students, teachers, counselors, share benefits, memories for finals past and present

With finals also come many opinions, both positive and negative.


Emily Abriani

Seniors Maria Carlson and Sarah Collins study during flex on Nov. 28. School counselor Mrs. Gretchen Watko ’01 said, “Finals can be a great way to boost your grade. It could make it or break it for the semester grade.”

Sydney Hutchinson, Reporter

With final exams starting next Tuesday, students, teachers and counselors expressed a full range of opinions about the tests, their impact on grades and even their reasons for existing.

All students know that finals are coming at inevitably fast pace. But what some students don’t know is why exactly they take them. With finals also come many opinions, both positive and negative.

School counselor Mrs. Gretchen Watko ’01 said, “I think they can be overall stressful. I know some teachers spread their semester out differently and for some finals (they) are a big chunk of your grade, so that can create some added stress and anxiety.”

Mrs. Liz Browning, English Department co-chair and service learning coordinator, said, “They are hard, I know. I still have nightmares about oversleeping and missing a final exam. I didn’t do this in real life.”

Both teachers and students have somewhat similar opinions when it comes to this subject. Junior Class president Megan Mattei said, “Finals are extremely stressful and mentally exhausting, but important because we have to take finals in college.”

Mattei’s older brother and Senior Class president Jack Mattei said, “I think finals are a good way to ensure all the material is learned; however, the added stress to the student body and the positives for taking the tests do not match up to the negatives.”

While stress seems to be a common word associated with finals, Ms. Kathy Pivonka, director of guidance and college counselor, assured students that finals are taken for a reason. She said, “I think finals differ in every class because for some finals you’ll have a test to show that you have grasped all the knowledge and (complete) all the math concepts correctly. For some classes a project to show that (all concepts have been understood) sometimes works well.

Obviously, if you’re taking a makeup final, it’s more showing your skill rather than taking a written test. “They serve a pretty good purpose in terms of showing you what you’ve learned,” Pivonka said.

Another response to why students take finals can be answered by Jack Mattei. “We have them as preparation for college. It looks good for a high school to have finals.”

Finals impact grades more, or less, than one may think. “They can sway your grade. Not a huge amount, but the final can have an impact,” Browning said.

Megan Mattei said, “Finals impact grades. My grades always move down after taking a final. I’ve never improved my grade by taking a final.”

As far as how exams are calculated into grades, Watko said, “Finals can be a great way to boost your grade. It could make it or break it for the semester grade. I know some students who (are) currently depending on doing well on their finals to improve their grades and GPA. Finals are calculated into the semester. First quarter is typically 40 percent of your semester grade, second quarter is 40 percent, and then the final is usually worth 20 percent.” Teachers do have the option of having a final count 15 percent or 10 percent as well.

With this information, Watko said that “yes, absolutely (students) should care about finals.”

To form the final consensus of teachers saying students caring about finals, Browning said, “Of course they should. The good student puts their best foot forward.”

Megan Mattei spoke for students and said, “Students should definitely care. It’s only one test, but it’s going to affect your grade tremendously if you don’t pull out a good grade.”

Finals are obviously not a new concept, as teachers have their own memories of the dreaded tests.

Browning said, “I hated them. But I loved them, too. The very best thing about the final is that I got to empty of my mind (of) everything I knew on a piece of paper. It was proof of a semester worked hard. And then I was done. That was the love part — when I was done I was truly done. Nothing held over until the next semester (or) year.”

Watko said, “I somewhat enjoyed them (as a high school student at Cathedral), only because I guess I liked the schedule of that week where it just felt like a little more relaxed. We didn’t have to wear uniforms, and we weren’t here from 8 to 3. I didn’t have a strong feeling one way or the other. I do remember looking forward to finals, if I was motivated for the class, to boost my grade,” Watko said.

As students are still taking finals and only have a couple years worth of finals under their belt, Megan Mattei said, “Teachers that give final projects are the MVPs. You are still learning and reviewing, just with a little less stress. Also, I think most students can agree that finals week itself isn’t too stressful. With half days, you’re able to get in plenty of studying. It’s the week before finals when you have tons of tests while also trying to prepare yourself for finals, that’s really hard.”

Jack Mattei concluded, “I believe finals can be a positive experience if approached by both the student and the teacher as a joint challenge instead of just a final examination testing how well students can regurgitate information.”