Regina Dominican Should Bring Back Exam Exemptions

Beth Gillespie, Editor-in-Chief

Final exam season is upon us, and students of every grade have begun to frantically study as much as they can. Many desperately try to maintain the grades they have accumulated in their classes, hoping these dreaded exams won’t bring their grades down. Yet, this was not always so.

In the past, Regina Dominican allowed seniors with an A in a class to be exempt from taking the final in that class. Though Regina Dominican no longer offers this exemption, this program still has immense potential to benefit the senior class.

Exam exemptions can serve as motivation for those stricken with senioritis, and stress relief for those who are high achieving. Because of this, bringing back exam exemptions would not only benefit the Senior class, but also the entire Regina community.

We’ve all heard tales of senioritis. It creeps up, causing students to slowly lose their will to concentrate on school and maintain the grades they once had. While some may joke about it, staying motivated and on track can be a real challenge for many seniors.

When asked about senioritis, Senior Liz Loeher replied, “I know for sure, even at the end of first semester, I’m lacking in motivation.”

This lack of motivation requires a force to combat it. It is not enough to just tell the senior class to work hard. Instead, seniors must be motivated to do so.

If there is a promised reward for the A grades they attain, the senior class may once again feel inspired to work hard. If a student does not want to take a final in a class, she will respond by trying her best to do as well as she can during the semester. She will push herself throughout the semester, not just during its last few weeks. Furthermore, she will do so because she has a goal she wants to work toward. This experience will teach her determination and the power of goal-setting. If she is exempt from taking a final, it will be a genuine reflection of the hard work she put into the class whose final she is exempt from.

The goal she is working toward may be greater than 75 more minutes of freedom. For many students, an exemption from a final could be a way of reducing stress levels and improving mental health. After all, final exams can be a major source of anxiety.

According to Senior Jenna Rozhon, “During exam time, I get so stressed out.”

When people are stressed, it can cause them to be preoccupied with whatever their stressors are. It is not uncommon for students to lose sleep or feel less confident in themselves because they are stressed about something. Reducing stress can be essential for students who want to improve their mental health. If a student has fewer exams to take, she will likely be less stressed out. The knowledge that one has the power to remove a stressor from one’s environment can be a source of positive motivation for many students.

This is especially true for Seniors, as their final exams coincide with many other stressors.

Many students applying to college face application deadlines in early January. Throughout the month of December, these students have been working hard on college essays and applications. Worrying about finals at the same time adds to the stress these students face. Furthermore, studying for finals means less time to focus on completing applications. This shortage of time can cause students to feel stressed about if they will be able to get their applications in. For students applying to college, the chance to have more time to work on applications can be a positive motivator to get As in their classes.

Second semester, a similar conflict arises for AP students. AP exams take place in early May, between May 6th and May 17th. Senior final exams take place between May 16th and May 20th. This means that Seniors in AP classes will have to study not only for finals, but for AP exams as well.

Senior Liz Loeher says, “Students are already working really hard to study for AP exams. Having another exam on top of it is only going to add to their stress.”

Not only is this stressful, this is insanely exhausting. Having to study for finals while also studying for AP exams is a huge burden, especially with the extensive nature of these exams. Furthermore, having to take AP exams in such close proximity to one’s finals is an incredibly draining experience. This is especially true for AP students with exams the same week as their second semester finals.

AP exams may even be scheduled on the same days that senior finals take place, as is the case with the AP Latin and AP Music Theory exams. Students place in this predicament will likely leave finals week feeling much more exhausted than their non-AP counterparts. Students taking AP exams already tend to be highly motivated, as many are taking these exams in order to gain college credit. If, by earning A grades, they are able to reduce the burden examinations place on them, their motivation will likely carry over to their approach toward schoolwork.

Some may argue that giving exam exemptions may have a negative impact on the perception of Regina Dominican as a school. They may point out that many other schools in the area do not offer exam exemptions of any kind. This may cause some to fear that offering exam exemptions shows a de-emphasis on examination, and thus a lack of academic rigor.

Yet, a de-emphasis on examination shows a higher emphasis placed on projects and essays, the things that determine much of a student’s quarter grades. In many ways, these are much better indicators of how well one knows the material than a final exam is.

According to Senior Jenna Rohzon, “If you’re able to demonstrate that you can keep up with the work throughout the semesters and prove that you understand it, you should be able to be exempt.”

As she points out, the work one does in class can indicate one’s understanding of class material just as well as a final exam can. Yet, in some ways, they can represent very different things. When one fills out a final exam, they demonstrate that they know the facts that they were taught in class. They do very little with these facts except present them in the form of pencil markings on a scantron. Class projects and essays, however, show one’s ability apply the knowledge they learned in class. This challenges students to truly think about the material, instead of just memorizing it.

The ability to memorize facts has little to do with how someone will do in the adult world, where they will be expected to think. In this way, it is perfectly fair to allow a grade earned through applied knowledge to stand in for something that may only represent whether one has memorized knowledge.

Bringing back exam exemptions would not only benefit the students who qualify for them, but also change and benefit the Regina Dominican community as a whole.