The Student News Site of Berkley High School


The Student News Site of Berkley High School


The Student News Site of Berkley High School


A Look Into Why Berkley Doesn’t Have Finals

College of Graduate Studies

Four years ago, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Berkley High School made the administrative decision to stop giving final exams at the end of each semester. The pandemic was a time of high stress, and the staff of BHS thought that they would do as much as possible to eliminate as many additional anxieties as they possibly could for the students.

Since then, Berkley has instead turned to culminating projects as a replacement for final exams. Instead of administering a 90-minute test, teachers are now supposed to assign a semester project that does the same educational work as exams without the stress factor. This allows students to demonstrate their knowledge of what they’ve learned throughout the semester without being forced to study for weeks in advance to prepare for a heavily weighted exam, for students who may not remember exams, they used to count for 20 percent of your overall grade.

While eliminating final exams during the pandemic felt like the correct thing to do, the pandemic is now over. We have resumed schooling as it was prior to 2020. Yet we still have final projects instead of final exams. After COVID, almost every school in Oakland County resumed finals, but Berkley remained firm in eliminating them. BHS principal Andy Meloche says, “When COVID happened, we physically couldn’t have finals. About every school in Oakland County did not do finals that first year of the pandemic. When we did that, I talked to my teachers here, and we were really thinking about whether or not we wanted to go back to finals. It never really made sense to me that students spend 97% of their class time obtaining whatever grade you have, but this one day accounts for 20% of your grade. In my days as a math teacher, I found that barely anyone ever did better on the final than the actual grade they had in their math class.”

Not having finals does indeed make things less stressful for students, but is that necessarily a good thing? Stress is a part of life; meeting deadlines and studying for tests are important skills to learn. And, despite eliminating finals, Berkley students still have to study for AP tests as well as standardized tests. Although AP tests are lower stakes and therefore less stressful, they still require the same amount of studying as finals. Additionally, students especially need to learn how to study for final exams, because they are very much present in college.

Freshman Noah Katkowsky has only had one semester at Berkley. He says, “I like that I don’t have finals. It’s a lot less pressure, but I think we should have them because they are good for college.” Katkowsky knows that with finals comes a lot of studying and stress. When asked if he thinks he could deal with that stress, he says “Absolutely not. It will make me feel like I have a very, very big thing. I got stressed about a Spanish test I had last Friday. If we did have finals, though, I’d think that’s probably very annoying but also probably smart in some ways.”

On the opposite side of Katkowsky, senior Rayna Kushner has dealt with not having finals throughout her whole high school career. Kushner believes that “Berkley could have finals for upperclassmen but not for lowerclassmen because it might be too much. I feel like I know how to study for finals because I’ve taken so many AP tests, but that might not be the case for everyone.” When asked if she feels like she will be prepared for finals in college, Kushner says “Maybe a tiny bit because of AP tests, but definitely way less prepared than anyone else.” She doesn’t believe that every class needs to have finals, either. “I would say art classes or classes like advanced podcasting can keep the final projects, but for the core classes, it’s probably good to make sure you know all the material.” Kushner believes that she could deal with the stress of finals, but again knows that that is not the case for everyone.

As reflected in both Katkowsky and Kushner’s statements, college exams are one of the biggest reasons why Berkley should reimplement final exams. One of the major goals of high school is to prepare students for college, and final exams are a huge part of that. Without final exams, it seems it would be more difficult for students to perform well on college exams. Berkley alumni and current sophomore at University of Michigan Anna Roth weighs on the effect of not having finals in high school. “At the time, I really preferred not having finals because it was much easier to get through the end of semesters. But, looking back, I wish we had final exams all throughout high school. Now, in my sophomore year of college, I think this definitely had a negative effect on the exams I have taken here.” Roth adds that exams are incredibly stressful, and not taking them at Berkley has made it more stressful on her at Michigan. However, she does also acknowledge that the culminating projects were beneficial in other ways saying, “The final projects at Berkley helped me to know how to review information and dive deeper into the concepts to actually learn them instead of just memorizing information like studying for finals would’ve had me do. That has definitely helped me in college.”

Another way for students to deal with the stress of finals in college is AP tests. Mr. Meloche says, “An AP test is one of the best ways to prepare for finals. An AP test is a good litmus test for what finals are like. There are definite curriculums and definite practice problems, which is similar to what finals feel like. For college students, I would suggest that however they prepare for APs is how they should prepare for finals.”

Overall, Berkley’s choice to eliminate finals has had both positive and negative effects. Berkley students are less stressed and do not have to worry about cramming in hours of studying before winter or summer break. And, as Mr. Meloche says, students’ knowledge is not measured on a singular test. However, college finals seem to be more daunting for Berkley students without practicing for finals in high school.

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About the Contributor
Aiden Aronoff
Aiden Aronoff, Copy Editor
Hey everyone! My name is Aiden. I’m so excited to be your copy editor this upcoming year! I am a senior and this is my third year on the staff of the Spectator. I’m a huge movie nerd and Detroit sports fan! I have my own movie blog, Sweet n' Sour Movie Blog, where I do movie reviews. I love hanging out with friends, watching movies (obviously!), being active, and reading/writing. Can’t wait for this year!

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