Teachers’ Take on Finals

Teachers' Take on Finals

Addison Drone, Staff Writer

Finals are fast approaching, and kids all around are beginning to stress out about their final assessments. However, many forget about the stress put on teachers at this time. They need to finish up their grades for the end of the fourth quarter and try to create a fair final for their students. This week, I asked a few teachers, Dr. Schroeder, Mr. McCrystal, Mrs. Gribbin, and Mr. Scotto, about their preparations and thoughts on finals.


When do you create your final exam?

Dr. Schroeder: Teachers must submit final exams to Mrs. Acquadro/Mr. McGowan by May 31st, so my final exam was created on May 30th.

Mr. McCrystal: I usually work off a previous year’s exam if it applies and submit the draft when it is due. It helps to have the same course years in a row. The exam can always be tweaked.

Mrs. Gribbin: I created my exam last week.  Basically, once we finish with our final novel, each year, I compile it all together and send it off for approval.

Mr. Scotto: I finished up my exams weeks ago. The early bird catches the worm.


How are you preparing your students for finals?

Dr. Schroeder: Students received an extremely thorough study guide that covers the major topics that were presented throughout the year.  We then spend the week prior to finals preparing for the exam during class.

Mr. McCrystal: My freshmen classes will have 2+ days of review. History review can be a challenge as it ultimately turns into recall of information. Therefore, I try to bounce around the study guide that was handed out.

Mrs. Gribbin: They receive a study guide to exactly what will be on the exam.  Additionally, I do 2-3 days of in-class review in the form of games, Q&A, and study groups.

Mr. Scotto: My three Calculus classes have been reviewing since April with practice AP questions and multiple choice. The one section of Algebra Honors will have one week of review with study guides and practice multiple choice.


When making your finals, what goes through your mind?

Dr. Schroeder: How can I inflict the most pain while still being (somewhat) fair.  Just kidding (or am I???).  

Mr. McCrystal: Like Mrs. Gribbin, I usually curse myself given my exams are all writing-based. In fact, just thinking about it right now makes me want to curl up into a ball, crying and shaking violently.

Mrs. Gribbin:  This is going to be so much writing to read and correct. I should have been a math teacher.

Mr. Scotto: All of my exams are vertical tests that are based on the AP Calculus AB exam (which are also how every unit quiz and test were formatted as well). This way, when students are faced with the exam, they are very comfortable with the format and questions being asked.


Have you ever had to curve your final? If you never have, how would you approach curving a final if your students do poorly?

Dr. Schroeder: I rarely curve exams.  If students did poorly, I would certainly have to consider it, however, what I have found is that final exam grades are a fair representation of the grades that students typically achieve on my normal exams.

Mr. McCrystal: I curved in my first couple years. As time has gone on, I have been able to create fairer exams that do not need curving. I think there is a tendency to craft exceptionally challenging exams early in one’s career.

Mrs. Gribbin: I’ve never curved one, and I don’t think I would.  It’s up to the student to prepare – they are given the proper information.

Mr. Scotto: My exams are raw score based, so there are different parameters to passing than a percentage, not really a curve. However, multiple choice questions are +1.2 for a correct answer and only -1 for an incorrect answer. I also give the students a “score predictor” that shows them what they would currently get based on their recent performances in class.


What are your overall thoughts on finals? Do you have your finals consist of the full year or only the second semester?

Dr. Schroeder: My final exams cover the entire year.  That said, I am definitely in favor of midterms.  In a subject like chemistry, we cover a lot of material over the course of the year.  I believe it would be helpful to students to break up that material.  There will be a (slight) emphasis placed upon topics covered after Christmas, however, many of those ideas build off of very important subject matter that was covered in the first half of the year.

Mr. McCrystal: My finals are generally second-semester content, although I put out a disclaimer that essays might involve comparative analysis from the first semester. I think finals are useful when it comes down to holding students accountable. I do enjoy a lack of midterms, however.

Mrs. Gribbin: I don’t enjoy grading them, but I think they are important.  Plus, I like to see what exactly you guys remember from the year.  As far as content, this year the overall themes and analysis of American Literature that have been discussed all year are on the exam, but the most specific details and comprehension questions are pulled from the novels we have read this semester.  

Mr. Scotto: All math material builds and builds upon itself and earlier concepts. A final exam on only half of the year would be unfair to students. The entire year’s curriculum is circulated fairly throughout the exam.


As you can see, finals take their toll on teachers and students alike. Teachers are the ones tasked with creating finals in which students need to view as fair. In fact, they have a deadline in which they have to submit a draft of their final, increasing the struggle. However, the focus on finals always seems to go towards the students. The teachers are tasked with preparing the finals and trying to avoid coming up with a dreadful curve. With this, each final is different. Some cover only the second semester while other cover the full year. Some have more writing; others consist of a barrage of multiple-choice questions. Either way, it is important to prepare for the finals. 2™ I hope that all students out there do well and that all teachers put together fantastic finals and survive the grading process. Good Luck!