Do Finals Increase Anxiety in RMHS Seniors?

Hannah Howard, Reporter

In December, Rancho Mirage High School students begin taking their semester finals – projects, big tests, writing assignments – all of which determine the grades they earn in those classes. For many students, finals will mean the difference between passing and failing. With those high stakes, how do finals affect anxiety and stress among seniors, who are dealing with college applications and last minute SATs? Do the looming December finals affect them at all, or have they gone through enough of them to know when to worry and when not to?

According to the Washington Post, even non-test related stress in the classroom can lead to students developing learning problems and acting out as a result of feeling out of control of the situation. This may lead to worsening grades and mental health as the student advances in the education system. According to New York University, “…there is growing awareness many subgroups of youth experience high levels of chronic stress, to the extent it impedes their abilities to succeed academically, compromises their mental health functioning, and fosters risk behavior.”

Therefore, finals time should increase stress in students. If not for the major impact the tests have on GPA, then for the anxiety over taking the test itself. According to Healthline’s website, up to 40% of students struggle with test anxiety. However, according to some RMHS seniors, this is not the case for them. They’ve already been through six final sessions, and know how to prepare and what to expect. “I don’t feel any pressure at all because I know exactly what to do already, which is to study at least three weeks earlier and I’ll be just fine,” said Edwin Moto (12).

Similarly, some students don’t find finals to be cause for extra stress because they don’t plan to attend college after graduation. One of these students, Diana Arias (12), who hopes to become a makeup artist or teach yoga said, “To me test scores aren’t that important and something to get stressed out about.” The change in stress may lie in grade level. According to College Express, while freshmen spend their time planning the four-year journey ahead of them, seniors look forward to colleges and careers, causing them to spend less time stressing about tests they’ve taken and passed multiple times before.  

Despite this, studies show teen stress over testing is increasing as colleges demand more and more from applicants, and high schools put more emphasis on student involvement in extracurriculars and community service in addition to challenging courses and maintaining good grades.