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Finals: Who's Exempt, Who's Not, Who Should Be

By TARA JENNINGS, Staff Writer

January 22, 2019

As the semester winds down, many students are scrambling to maintain A averages in their classes. Under North Brunswick Township High School policy, seniors who manage to do this can be exempt from their final exams; underclassmen, however, do not have the same privilege. Is this fair? Should seniors be the only ones capable of earning final exemptions? The answer is no―and there are plenty of reasons why.

According to the student handbook, students can only be exempt from a final if they have a minimum average of 89.5 in the first three marking periods of that class; if they earn at least an 89.5 in the fourth marking period; if they have less than eight unexcused absences for the year; and if they are a senior. Three of these qualifications require hard work and a dedication to learning; the fourth is a matter of luck, and it is unfair to punish students for being unlucky.

When asked his opinion on NBTHS’ final policy, junior Justin Soto expressed his belief that underclassmen should be able to earn exemptions, too. “You can have sophomores and juniors in the same class earning the same grade as seniors, and they still have to take the final,” Soto explained. Soto’s statement reflects a common belief among students, who feel that equal work should result in equal reward; that is not the case, however, under the current policy.

Photo Courtesy of Wix

Extending the ability to earn final exemptions to underclassmen could also help increase students’ motivation. If students know that earning an A average and maintaining good attendance could keep them from having to take a final, they would be more likely to try to fulfill such requirements; freshman Megan Farrell and sophomore Stephanie Acevedo both agree that the possibility of final exemptions would encourage them to do better in school. “That would definitely motivate me!” said Acevedo, with Farrell adding, “I wouldn’t want to take finals; who does?”

One final issue with the school’s exam policy is its treatment of AP students. Most of the hardest classes offered at NBTHS are AP courses; many of these are taken by juniors, unable to earn exemptions regardless of their performance in the class. AP courses, however, require that students learn the equivalent of a college class by early May, and that they review all this information prior to the exam; many students feel that this makes taking finals in AP classes pointless. “We already go over all the material before the AP exam,” explained Samantha Zielinski, a senior and AP student. “It doesn’t make any sense to do it again for the final.”

None of this is to say that students are completely against the school’s final policy. Most appreciate the fact that they can earn exemptions as seniors; they simply wish that they could do the same as underclassmen, too. Hopefully, this policy will change to reward all hard-working students moving forward; for now, however, seniors are the only ones who can dream of avoiding finals.


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