Finals Schedule Frazzles Students

By Ciara Constantino, Evan Kerani, and Efrata Solomon

During finals in January, we had an unusual and stressful block schedule for all students. On Jan. 25, periods 1, 3 and 5 were 105 minutes each. This was the same on Jan. 26, with the only difference being classes were only periods 2, 4 and 6 instead of 1, 3 and 5. On both days, there was a 20-minute break between the first two periods, and an entire school lunch for 35 minutes after 3rd and 4th. 

The schedule was flawed for a multitude of reasons, with one of the biggest being that there was only one lunch for the entire school. This meant the HUB and other lunch areas across the school were very crowded, which didn’t leave a lot of space to sit down and eat. Additionally, the lunch lines were extremely long compared to usual, which gave people much less time to eat. Only five extra minutes were added onto lunch, which wasn’t adequate to solve the problem of there being twice as many people in the lines. The school-wide lunch allowed for no conflict with the already confusing schedule, which was understandable, but there was definitely a better solution that would have given more thought to student interest. 

The 105-minute periods also left a lot of people in classes without finals stuck there for the whole period with nothing to do. Although people needed a large chunk of time to test, 105 minutes is excessive. Since the schedule was announced late, teachers also might not have had enough time to thoroughly plan their finals to fit with the time. Many teachers that didn’t give finals didn’t create a prolonged lesson plan for their students, resulting in a mundane environment in their classrooms. This is more of an issue with the structure of finals themselves, but it’s very difficult to concentrate and focus on one subject for nearly two hours. A typical period is 50 minutes, which is a reasonable amount of time for people to learn, but doubling that discourages their learning abilities, especially with the pressure of finals. People’s brains start shutting down and wearing out, making them forget everything they stayed up late studying for. Spending so much time sitting down staring at a piece of paper or a screen slows down the blood flow to your brain, worsening your performance on the final. It also gives room for people to overthink and second guess otherwise simple questions.

The finals schedule was also unnecessary considering that many people didn’t have tests in most of their classes. Even in classes that did include finals, the test could often be done in half of the class period. This brings up an important question: why couldn’t we just keep the normal schedule for finals? A switch to a block schedule, which isn’t usually necessary for people to complete their tests, adds to the stress of finals by making finals seem more extensive and difficult than they actually are, which can affect performance by wrecking nerves. Shorter periods also gives teachers an easier time when preparing finals for their class, as they don’t have to worry about making a test that can take up the entire 105-minute period and can just hand out a normal test that covers the semester’s lessons. We could have used the same schedule from last year, the same 6-period schedule kept while staggering when each class had their final based on if it was an even or odd period. 

Still, a positive part of this schedule was the free 20-minute period after each day’s first class. This helped relieve stress from tests that took place in previous periods. People had more time to study, interact with others for comfort before their next final, or walk around to clear their heads and take a breath in relief as they had just completed their first final. Or, if they were just released from their first mundane class due to the unnecessarily long periods.

Overall, the finals schedule imposed a stressful and anxious atmosphere upon many students. There was an unspoken dread among everybody, knowing what awaited them in their upcoming periods. The 35-minute lunch stressed kids out who were unable to find a place to sit, or a quiet place to clear their minds post-final. The 105-minute-long periods frustrated students trying to focus during testing, struggling to keep their attention. 

Over both days, the unusual schedule brought anxiety upon students because it was all new to them. It brought confusion on which class to go to, where to sit for lunch, which places they could study at, and more. During an already stressful time, a confusing and lengthy schedule is the last thing students need when they would most benefit from a positive finals environment, and is definitely something worth fixing in the future.