Semester Finals Loom

By Madison Arriaga

Students will be taking their final exams the week of Dec. 16-20 before winter break. The days of the exam will be Tuesday for the sixth and fourth period, Wednesday for the second and fifth period, Thursday for the third and eighth period, and Friday for the first and seventh period. On Thursday, Dec. 19 and Friday, Dec. 20 the school day will end at 1:30 p.m.
The exams will be held in students’ usual classrooms during class time unless their teacher tells them otherwise. The exams are a way for teachers to assess their students’ progress in the class, but they also serve as an opportunity for students to raise their grades as the final exams are worth twenty percent of their semester average.

Senior Maggie Rodriguez knows the key to semester finals success is to study and study some more.

However, the large percentage on the final exam can be worrying for many students. It is true that a good grade on the exam can boost a students’ semester average, but likewise, a poor grade could lower the average.
“I think these exams are stressful for many reasons. They count for a large portion of the grade. They can be cumulative and therefore cover a lot of material (some of which the students haven’t seen in a while) and this means that students have so much to study. Often times students are relying on this exam as to whether or not they pass or fail. Also, for students who are very conscious of their GPA, this exam can make or break their final grade and that puts a lot of pressure on this test as well,” says Ashton Chandler, our on-campus crisis specialist. “We see many more students during these last weeks before the end of the semester. This tends to be related to grades in general. Students are worried about how their final grades will turn out and this causes a lot of stress.”
A 2013 survey by the American Psychological Association found that “eighty-three percent of the teens surveyed found that school was a significant or somewhat significant source of stress”. Stress is common in students, and even more common is stress relating to school. Students must remember to find ways to de-stress and take care of their mental health.
“Students can do many breathing techniques to help them relax,” says Chandler. “Exercise is also a great source of stress relief. Coloring or journaling is also quite helpful.”
When it comes to exam-related stress, in particular, Chandler said: “Students first need to take a deep breath and realize that it is all manageable. Staying organized with study materials and using a calendar to schedule out when they are going to study vs. work on homework and other activities help students to see how much time they have for everything. Take things one at a time and bit by bit things will get done.”
If students are worried about possible failure in a class, there are ways to raise their grades before the end of the semester. Of course, there are the final exams; if a student scores high enough, they can take their grade from passing to failing within a day. If this is not enough to secure a passing grade, then the student may take credit recovery if their final semester grade is between a sixty to a sixty-nine. If the final semester grade is lower than sixty, they must retake that class either in summer school or the next school year.
As the exam dates are right around the corner, students should remember to take care of their health. People have limits and it is okay to let go and take breaks before that limit is reached, and Chandler readily agrees, “Sometimes students really need to evaluate how much they have on their plate. Sometimes we realize that we do indeed have too much going on and that we are human and it is okay to lighten your load.”

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THE ADVOCATE
This is the online news site for James Madison High School.

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