Finals set to take a new approach this year

Eric Lam, News editor

With finals on the horizon, North students can start to anticipate a restructured format this June with new schedules, new content, and new grading systems.
The new finals schedule will be composed of four testing days plus a make-up day. Each testing day will contain two mandatory exam blocks. Each block will last two hours and be separated by Tiger and lunch blocks. Students with academic accommodations that may require extra time to work will be permitted to utilize Tiger blocks, stay after school, or arrive early for tests, according to history teacher Gregory Drake who helped revamp the format of finals.
The different approach to exams this year aims to help students build skills and knowledge rather than forcing them to memorize information that they might not retain for a long period of time.
“During the course of the last couple of years, we’ve thought a lot more about building skills in students and synthesizing information,” said Drake. “For a lot of teachers, there’s a desire to think about what we’re really asking kids to do at the end of the year.”
The new format of finals was determined by department, grades, and levels.
“The policy that they came up with is that every course level has to be the same,” said Latin teacher Timothy Lesinski. “For example, all ninth-grade honors freshman English classes would have to have the same structure.”
Final exams will now be factored into no more than 15 percent of students’ final course grades instead of simply being a part of their term four grades. At a minimum, exams will count for 5 percent of a student’s final course grade.
Data collected by the committee assembled to revise the exam schedule revealed that a lack of traditional final exams left college students feeling unprepared.
“We took a survey and we also had some interviews with alumni,” said Lesinski. “One of the things that we noticed was that a lot of North alumni, after graduating, reported that they were feeling unprepared to take college finals and other college exams because we didn’t have final exams here.”
Formal final exams were not given in 2020 or 2021 due to COVID-19. Most recently in 2022, the school implemented primarily project-based finals rather than standard tests.
According to Lesinksi, under this new structure, those who may be uncertain of how to prepare for finals should seek their teachers for help or clarification.
“Ask your teacher about the format. See if your teacher has a practice final available,” said Lesinski. “I know that I personally will be making a practice final available to all my classes before giving the final.”