POLL: Final Exams Before or After the Holidays?

For many Tri-Cities kids, the holidays are also a time for homework, because exams take place after they get back to school. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Let us know in this Patch poll.

For educators and students, the coinciding of the holiday break and the end of the semester is tricky business that brings up what feels like an age-old question:

Should students take exams before the break or after?

As Beth Bales points out in , most college students take their finals before the holiday, while most high school and middle school students take them sometime in January. As far as we're aware, schools in all Tri-Cities districts generally wait until after break.

As Beth notes, there are reasons for the exams scheduling that have to do with the number of days in a semester and when final test scores have to be posted.

From a sheer school/work/life-balance perspective, there are pros and cons to this before-or-after question, as well.

For students and parents, it can be a giant pain to study and prepare for exams during the holidays, causing stress and putting a damper on the merriment. A lot of families travel over the school break, making the study duty especially onerous and difficult.

On the flip side, the days and weeks before the holidays already are full and stressful, without the addition of final exams. Holiday concerts and athletic events, holiday parties, holiday volunteer work, holiday shopping—the whole nine yards.

"After" also gives students additional time to prepare for exams—and full days off school in which to do it. And some parents will say, the kids get bored over break and benefit by the little discipline of studying.

From teachers' and administrators' points of view, many of the same arguments apply.

Having finals before break would make that pre-Christmas season more stressful. A big chunk of curriculum still would have to be covered after the break and before the end of the semester—which likely would have to be measured via yet another test that's factored into the final grade.

And it probably would end up that teachers would be taking their holiday break time to grade final exams and essays.

In fact, it's hard to think of any advantage for teachers if they were to give final exams before break. Maybe that's one good reason the tradition contiinues.

What do you think? Should students take their exams before the holidays, as college students do?

Take our Patch Poll, and let other moms know your opinion in the comments field below.

Rick Nagel December 07, 2011 at 08:06 PM
A year ago, I would have said "before." Parents and kids don't get much of a break when they have to deal with homework and studying. But it's probably the most practical scenario for everyone involved. Plus, the days before Christmas are hectic enough without throwing exams into the mix.
Thomas December 07, 2011 at 08:11 PM
I can speak to this topic from 3 different perspectives. I have one child that attends a high school that has finals before break, my other child has finals after break, and I also teach. Without question everyone in my family would vote for before break with the caveat that the school calendar was set up that the week before break actually marked the end of the semester. It would make no sense to have semester finals with two weeks left in the semester. My "before break" child's school year started on August 15th where Geneva started on the 24th. Both of my kids say it is better to take finals while the information is fresh in their mind and not two weeks removed. And I am sure my "after break" child would love not having to endure the endless taunting from my "before break" child that he can sit back and relax since his finals are done. From a teacher's perspective, it takes the same amount of time and is equally as stressful to grade final exams regardless of when they are given. Being able to grade them over break eliminates a lot of other things that could be competing with your time.
Colleen Miller-Owen December 08, 2011 at 02:09 PM
They are in High School not college and follow a High School schedule. Would they really enjoy the days leading up to Christmas and break if they had finals? And not everyone, every profession gets a 2 week break at Christmas so they need to learn how to coordinate work, school and life.


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