Why we need to test after remote

With this school year being completely different from any we’ve experienced before, we need a sense of normal.

With remote learning allowing us to get back into the routine of having classes every day in block schedules, we are finally able to experience a similar routine to their past years.

Being able to experience a less independent schedule like we would in normal years is very important. It helps prepare us for college and gets us in the mindset of attending school, then coming home to work on homework and prepare for our next class. 

High school also prepares us for college in another aspect: final exams.

Although it is a different year with having to learn online, we skipped second semester finals last year. If we were to skip them again, it would only harm us for the next time we have to take an exam.

We all remember how nervous and stressed we were for our first midterms and finals during our freshman year. So if we were to continue to skip finals, then have to take their first exam in college, they would lack the experience needed to pass in the future.

And if high school is supposed to prepare us for college, we should also prepare for how independent and schedule-based college courses are. Last year, the LHS staff was very understanding and decided to discredit exams since they knew how much we were struggling. But colleges weren’t as accommodating.

Colleges throughout the United States quickly switched to remote learning using programs. Instead of letting students adjust to being online, they only modified exams for students in order to continue their existing plans for the year.

If colleges won’t be as generous to us as our LHS teachers had, students should start practicing having to make these hard adjustments now. Instead of being unprepared to test your knowledge of your future career, I think it is better to practice an exam with a subject you may never use again.

Besides not getting the practice for exams as we usually would, students also missed out on studying. Typically, we have to take the time to review all the material from the past two quarters in order to prepare for their exams. Not only is this a skill needed when moving onto other grades when the material becomes more difficult, but is needed for college too.

However, exams aren’t only a good practice for a student’s future in education. Studying for finals also helps them retain information better. In the past, when I had to go back to the beginning of the quarter to review for an exam, I sometimes didn’t even recall learning a unit, let alone remembering the information.

So I had to spend a lot of time reviewing the material until I learned it again. But in the spring last year, we didn’t take a final exam. Because of this, I never had the chance to relearn anything in my class. Ultimately, I hardly remember anything from the second semester.

And although we are now in a schedule similar to regular school and once again have regulated tests, unit tests are known to not have as much of an impact on long-term retention as final exams do.

However, I understand how this year is different than most and we may not be as prepared for midterm exams. From going to class every other day in the hybrid schedule, and now in remote, it can be difficult to practice the material as much as needed for midterms. This would mean we would most likely have to review the material more than usual. So, in this case I think we should still have exams, but not have them count as much for our semester grades.

On the other hand, teachers understand that remote learning is a struggle for students since we’re not getting the hands-on experience we usually have. Along with this difficult situation, a lot of teachers have to modify their lessons in order to make the units fit into semester one. So, I can see how midterms would be worrisome coming out of remote. 

But if midterms weren’t such a large portion of our overall semester grade this year, that could help to ease some students’ worrying. Taking away the large impact exams have on students’ grades would not only help students that could be struggling with online learning, but it would still allow them to practice the material we’ve been learning since September, which is a huge part of exams.

This is an unprecedented year, so of course everything is going to be new and difficult at first. But we can’t keep skipping over our semester finals since it will only harm us in the future. Although I know that exams this year will require a lot more preparation, I think it’s needed so we can continue to practice the steps of studying for an exam. And besides it being good practice for our future,  it will help us retain what we’ve learned so far this year.

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