The Bar-On Brief: What happens during finals week shouldn’t stay in finals week

Final exams waste everyone’s time if they’re not properly administered

The Bar-On Brief: a weekly column

As of Christmas Eve, we were finally able to listen to The Beatles on music streaming apps. As a Spotify user, it definitely made my break.

But school’s back in session, and ever since Monday we’re all thinking the same thing: “Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they’re here to stay.”

We all took final exams at the first semester’s end, and everyone’s relieved that they’re over. I bet many of us have already received our final test scores.

But I also bet very few of us have actually seen the physical copies of our graded exams. And I’d wager most of us never will. We may know the score, but we have no idea why we earned that score, particularly on multiple choice tests where we may have guessed on many responses.

Yes, finals are supposed to assess the accumulated knowledge students should have obtained throughout the entire semester, but they’re also an assessment for teachers.

Of the teachers who gave multiple choice tests, the vast majority of them most likely ran the scantron through a machine and entered the grade into SchoolLoop, not even knowing what students got wrong.

It’s the teacher’s responsibility to transfer their knowledge of a subject to the students as best they can. Even if a student only answers one problem incorrectly on their math test, for example, the teacher has at least some responsibility to ensure the student knows how to do that problem.

On multiple choice tests, even if a student answered a question correctly, it doesn’t mean they know how to do it. I won’t ask for a show of hands, but how many of you can honestly say you didn’t guess the answer to at least one question?

The worst part is we’ll never know whether or not our guesses turned out to be right. It’s like the thrill of gambling but without knowing if we beat the house. No way of knowing how to play the cards better next time. What happens during finals week shouldn’t stay in finals week. Students should be able to refer back to these tests and learn from them.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is only one person responsible for your learning: you. It is the student’s responsibility to accept teachers’ lessons and to learn the information themselves if they aren’t receiving the information from their teachers. (I know many of these students, and I tip my hat to them).

Of course I can blame students for not wanting to check what they got wrong on a test, but I can see where they’re coming from for falling prey to this poor testing system.

Why would students want to look over their finals? They’re done with the test and don’t want to see it ever again. In an ideal world, students would ask their teachers to go over the test, but everyone  knows most of them don’t.  

It is for that reason exactly that teachers should go over the entire test with the class. To make sure the learning — and teaching — is carried out to the full extent.

So why give a final, or any exam for that matter, and not bother to look it over with the class? That wastes everybody’s time: the teacher’s time for writing the test and the class’s time for taking it.

Count how many of your teachers who gave multiple choice tests go over the whole test with the whole class.

Call me if half of them do. And that’s a 50 percent, mind you, probably an F in their books.

And with that, I rest my case.