Semester and final exams; should YOU be exempt?

Elder students have always rejoiced at the fact that exemptions are possible for the final exams at the end of the fourth quarter. Semester classes are arguably the less challenging classes on one’s schedule, and many offer exemptions IF taken in the second semester. What doesn’t make sense to many students, also myself, is that many of the second semester classes offer exemptions, but don’t offer first semester exemptions even if it’s the same class. The average grade for an exemption is an 85, something that’s very easy in some classes, yet challenging in others. A handful of classes offer exemption if a 90 is reached for an average grade, which is still feasible for most students. There have also been many suggestions of exemptions from first semester exams for full year classes, but most of the student body realizes it is far-fetched. Mid-term exams for the full year classes are a positive for students, because it helps them prepare better and retain the information more effectively for the final –if they have to take it. Many students have argued that if he has a 90 average first semester in a full year class, he should be exempt from the mid-term, but that is an idea that will not be approved by any teacher here at Elder, or anywhere else for that matter. Senior Jacob Lindle had some input on this subject “I would say that I typically take six exams; i usually am fortunate enough to achieve exempt status wherever possible.” I asked Jacob what he thought of the 85 drop off average for exemptions and he replied: “In my opinion, 85 is completely arbitrary. I agree that the school needs to set a base limit to establish a school policy, but I say: make it an even B. However, I would like to clarify that I completely support a teacher’s right to wave exemptions or raise the grade needed. Teachers know what is best although the students may be too myopic in their vision to see so.” My last question for Jake was if the possibility of an exemption in a class boosted his work ethic and effort in said class and he replied: “Exemptions have no effect on my effort toward a class. I try my hardest regardless of any external prize or motivation. I would say that I am intrinsically motivated when it comes to my education, but I will admit that I do appreciate the exemptions.” Elder’s own music department member, Mr. Anderson not only teaches and runs the Elder Band, but also has classes of his own- Music Theory and Music History. Mr. Anderson does not exempt from his semester exams simply because he cares about his students and wants each of them to be prepared for college where exemptions are not a possibility. “Consistency is important,” replied Mr. Anderson when asked if a certain class in the second semester offers exemption, should the same class offer it for the first semester. My final question for Anderson was if he personally supports the exemptions and if he agreed with the 85 drop off point, and he believes that teachers have the freedom to run the class and they should determine the grade and whether exemption is possible. Junior Brian Poston said on average he has to take 8 exams a year. Brian believes that 85 is also a fair average for each student to have the possibility of an exemption. “It’s just the right grade to strive for,“ he said. I asked Brain if having knowledge of an exemption at the beginning of the year pushes him harder and he replied, “Yes, I think it does push me harder. No one likes sitting in a classroom for hours taking a long exam, so I tend to work harder for at least an 85 when exams roll around.” Junior Luke Groene was also interviewed and asked the same questions. Luke takes 3-4 exams per semester on average. “ If 85 is the agreed on average to get out of exams, I believe all teachers should have to follow the same requirements. It is very confusing trying to remember how to get out of which exam. If the average needed would be increased from 85, I would try harder to get exempt. Some students may think getting an average higher than a 85 seems so far-fetched to reach they give up because they think it would be unreachable. I definitely would not lower the exam exemption because I like doing just enough to get exempted, so my grades would drop and my GPA would lower.” Luke was asked the same final questions as the previous students, on the matter of possible exemptions. Luke replied, “Being able to get out of first semester exams pushed me to try harder in a semester class so I could get out of the exam. Having the ability to get out of exams is a way of pushing students to try harder in school. First and second honors does not mean anything to some students, so being able to get exempt gives them something to work toward.” We all know that exams are hard to prepare for but are inevitable throughout a high school and college career. Exemptions are such a wonderful thing and it seems to push students harder to keep their eyes on the prize – to have a personal day off to catch up on some sleep and not worrying about exams!