Should AP Classes Have Finals?


Kyle Phillips, Staff Writer

The weeks of May 2 and May 9, this week and last, were the weeks designated for AP testing this year. This leaves two to three weeks after the AP test for whatever that class has planned for finals. At BHS, there has to be a final grade, as in the grade that gets put in as twenty percent of a student’s semester grade.

Students generally don’t like finals as they are just one extra step in the process. And this feeling is the same if not worse in AP classes. Which is problematic since AP classes still have to have a final grade through exams or other means in addition to the 3-4 hour-long AP test students take during the AP testing window. Because of the amount of testing students do, instead of final exams, some classes have projects or assignments that are the final assessment for the class instead of a test.

With how generally students don’t like finals, I wanted to get the teachers’ opinions on having finals in AP classes. To get data from teachers, I sent them a form to fill out and one of the questions was directly: Should AP Classes Have Finals? Thirteen teachers responded: six answered yes, six said that it depends and one said no.

In the form, I asked teachers what they have as the final for their AP class(es). A lot of the responses include some sort of tests and/or projects. One of the classes that has both a test and project for finals is AP US History. Mrs. Walters, who teaches AP US History, said that she has “consulted with many other AP teachers across the country, and prior to teaching, attended some College Board Institutes and this seems to be a successful process that most have adopted, so I have always incorporated this.”

As she said, this system works even though students generally hate it. One of the factors that makes students hate finals is the stress of having a ton of exams packed into a week. Mrs. Petersen said that “As much as I hate the stress of final exams, we would be doing the students a disservice by eliminating them. College professors aren’t going to get rid of them, so if you don’t practice in high school, you aren’t prepared for the study schedule and rigor necessary to take college finals when it is that much harder. I would like to see more half days in our schedule to reduce the stress further.”

A possible way to have a final exam and reduce stress at the same time could be a process similar to what Mr. Schwanekamp does in AP Calculus AB, where his students take an exam before the AP test. The reason behind his methodology for the final is because of the goal of the class. “The goal of any AP course is earning college credit by passing the AP exam. By giving a final before the AP Exam, it gives students one more chance to see how much they know. By making the final look like the AP Exam, we not only get more practice, but we are a little extra motivated to make sure we are ready to be at our best in May,” Mr. Schwanekamp said.