Weighted finals can make or break a grade. It’s the one test that can transform your B into an A, or turn your A into a C. I have relied on doing well on finals to ensure that I get an A in certain classes before. But this could also mean that a stellar student, who maintained an A all year, could potentially have a B or C because of one test. Even the thought of this can be extremely stressful. Fueled by need to succeed, students cram a semester’s worth of information in a week, and we’re told cramming doesn’t work. Students are extremely likely to stay up all night studying, and 90 percent of high school students are chronically sleep deprived already. Researchers have proven this method of studying doesn’t work because memories form during deep sleep. Sleep is when your brain makes connections and has been proven to improve exam scores in students of all ages.
This sleep deprivation can lead to numerous health issues, especially if it’s a consistent occurrence. Although you may initially feel a rush from the burst of adrenaline your body produces to help you stay awake, this leaves you feeling more impulsive and more likely to develop an addiction. Sleep deprivation can make the pre-existing anxiety around finals week even worse, especially if a student has an anxiety disorder or another mental illness, which about 20 percent of students do. This can also cause unhealthy changes in blood pressure, which increases the risk for heart disease and cancer.
Students tend to rely on lots of caffeine to stay up to study. Common caffeinated drinks are energy drinks, caffeinated sodas, and/or coffee. Yet, caffeine can be harmful; energy drinks often contain an excessive amount of caffeine which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Some students use other, less legal and potentially more dangerous stimulants such as Adderall, which is a Schedule II prescription drug used to treat ADHD, which means it’s very highly regulated. These drugs are used to balance out the chemical imbalances that cause hyperactivity and the lack of focus in people with ADHD. These drugs have been described as life changing for the people who actually need them, but can have dire side effects for those who misuse them. As someone with ADHD and does have a prescription medication to help manage my symptoms, this leaves me speechless. I’ve heard about stimulants being so readily available on so many campuses, both college and high school, it makes me sick. I don’t know what makes me sicker, the fact that so many students are uneducated on what these drugs actually do, or the pressure of finals leads students to illegally take Schedule II drugs. These drugs are highly addictive which causes a whole new slew of health issues.
Although finals can help you secure that coveted 4.0 GPA, they often end up leading students to develop unhealthy habits. This puts students’ health and even their lives at risk, simply for a grade. I can’t be the only person who sees a problem here. You can’t get diamonds without pressure, but students are human beings, not lumps of coal, and the pressure is clearly harmful.