Students stress out during final exams crunch time

It’s stressful . . . as soon as they come back they have to get ready for finals when they could’ve gotten everything out of the way and started fresh in the new year.


Finals: Stress time! Pixabay.

Gemma Costuna , Rosemont High School

The cramming, anxiety and pressure to do well all fall into one dreadful week for Rosemont High School students: finals week. Unfortunately for them and most high school students in the Sacramento City Unified School District, finals week comes shortly after their winter break ends.

While high school students in neighboring districts of Sacramento County, such as the San Juan and Elk Grove Unified school districts, have the tests before their break, it’s different for students at Rosemont and other high schools in the SCUSD, who have finals the week of Jan. 23- 27, two weeks after winter break ends. The exam schedule can have both benefits and disadvantages for high schoolers in SCUSD.

Why is this happening?

“It sounds like an awesome idea, if students could leave for winter break, with finals already finished, but it just doesn’t work out that way. This is the schedule across the district,” said Elizabeth Vigil, principal of Rosemont High.

For the past two decades, SCUSD has assigned finals week for mid-January rather than late December, according to Alexander Goldberg, the district’s communications manager.

“The timing of finals compared to our neighboring districts is more of a function of the overall academic calendar year beginning and end date(s)” said Goldberg. “I believe there is a requirement of how many days of instruction in the semester as well… a colleague I spoke to has said finals being in mid/late January has been this way for at least the past 19 years.” 

Some students and teachers believe the schedule puts them at a disadvantage compared to many other students in the Sacramento region during finals week and in general.

The Feedback

“Knowing how the brain works, much of the information they (students)  got just before break has been pruned away in the two week break period so unfortunately, it’s a waste,” said Matthew Naumann, the only psychology teacher at Rosemont said. “After we get back, we try to study and remember but there’s not enough time.” 

Looking at this through a psychological lens, Naumann, who has taught for over 30 years, including 17 at Rosemont High, said, “It’s stressful . . . as soon as they come back they have to be stressed out and get ready for finals when they could’ve gotten everything out of the way and then start fresh in the new year.” 

On the other hand, Rosemont senior Destiny Castillo sees the glass half full when it comes to her finals being two weeks after winter break.

“I personally don’t mind it because it’s all about how you manage your time and I understand why we (have finals after the break) because our schools start later than other schools.” said Castillo.

She added, “Being on that break gives you more time to study and prepare, instead of clustering it all into one. We have two weeks to prepare, relax, organize, and prioritize what’s necessary to ace finals.”

There has been some discussion in recent years about moving up SCUSD’s school-year calendar and, with it, finals week. 

“There was talk about it a few years ago, ‘Maybe this year we move the calendar,’ but if you do something that major, it involves students, parents, community groups, faculty, and the teacher unions,” said Vigil. “They would need a certain percentage in favor of it … I would love for it to come up again because I think there are a lot of benefits to an earlier start which would then impact finals week.”