Study On!

With the hum of excitement in anticipation of summer also comes finals week as students begin to cram a semester-or-two’s worth of knowledge. Although potentially stressful, most end-of-year finals should be cumulative of the entire year’s worth of information to ensure long-term retention and maintaining a flow across the two semesters.

When students review material from the start of the year, it makes the two semesters more contiguous. When a final focuses solely on second semester content, many students will ignore first semester content. This is especially damaging in courses with standardized testing, such AP or SAT subject tests.

According to Psychology Today, studying something again after a delay, called spaced learning, can produce a huge amount of learning and drastically improved retention; spaced learning is crucial to long-term learning.

“Although I understand the stress of studying subjects from a past semester, I understand the importance of taking a year’s worth of content…to encompass everything students have learned,” sophomore Tresa Schrader said. “It’s good to get into the habit of retaining information that you absorb rather than forgetting it as soon as you enter a new semester.”

A huge upset with cumulative finals, however, is students feeling overwhelmed with a large amount of content to study. With content increasing in difficulty, it is imperative that students learn to handle the stress of studying early-on, even if Netflix is calling. A cumulative final gives students an opportunity to demonstrate how much they have learned throughout the year and a chance to practice time-management skills.

The learning outcome of having cumulative finals, including increased content retention and practice with preparation strategies, is much more important than ignoring a semester’s worth of information.