Teaching with Final Exams


Final exams are given to students at the end of a course in order to assess what they have learned throughout the school semester. Though some schools across the country have gotten rid of final exams because they can cause a significant amount of stress and it is debatable whether or not they are the most accurate representation of a student’s knowledge of course material. By giving students final exams, educators will be able to have a better understanding of how much their students are learning and give their students the opportunity to develop the test-taking skills they will require if they go onto a higher level of education.


There are many resources available online for guiding educators who are looking to teach with final exams. The lesson plans, articles, and informational sites provided below will help you to do just that!

Lesson Plans

  1. Lesson Plan for Test Taking: This lesson plan aims to help students “become aware of strategies for studying for tests,” “understand how to take tests,” and “learn concentration and memory strategies.” Though this plan provides test taking tips for any type of test, it may be beneficial for students whose teachers give final exams. Included in the lesson are study strategies to be used prior to the test, tips for studying in a group, strategies for during and after the exam, the DETER test taking strategy, and information on concentration and memory skills.


  1. What Is the Purpose of Final Exams, Anyway?: The Chronicle has published an article which discusses the purpose of final exams, specifically the fact that they are often created in a way that brings on a significant amount of stress for students but if educators are willing to rethink their approach the exam can become more meaningful. The author, Kevin Gannon, talks about what final exams really show, how sometimes the traditional way of examining works, and why educators should ask their students for ideas when putting together the final assessment.
  2. How to Study for Finals: The Princeton Review offers an ultimate studying guide for students who are taking final exams. The recommendations include making a finals game plan, starting early, giving yourself more time to study for your most tough classes, forming a study group, getting creative with studying aids, and studying your notes. Educators may want to provide this guide or a similar one tailored to the specific final exam they are giving to their students.
  3. Why I Support Final Exams: The Odyssey has published a short article on the importance of final exams from the perspective of a college student. This student argues that by taking away final exams at the high school level, the quality of education in schools is decreasing because they are deviating from the system that is present in college courses. It may be easier to get rid of final exams in grade school, but it will only make it more difficult for students when they enter college and are expected to take cumulative assessments.

Informational Sites

  1. Final Exams: UC Berkeley has put together a brief introduction on final exams and some general suggestions on how to provide the best exam experience for students. Some of these recommendations include soliciting exam questions from your students and taking the exam and timing yourself after you finish writing up a draft of the assessment. This site will be helpful to take a look at when you are in the process of developing your class’s final exam for the school year.
  2. The Final Exam Experience: BYU provides an informational page on the final exam experience, giving further information about “designing, implementing, and grading alternative culminating experiences for your students during finals.” The alternatives include oral examination, take-home examination, portfolio review, poster presentations, group presentations of research work, and reflective-essays.
  3. Final Exam Review Ideas: Duquesne University provides a list of final exam review ideas, which includes offering a final’s feast (celebration for completion of the course with door prizes, snacks, and review materials), reviewing old exams, setting a phone-in or email time, giving a practice exam, and setting aside time for an interactive review with students as experts.


Teaching students using final exams may not be the easiest task, but the resources above will make developing cumulative assessments less difficult. Giving students the standard multiple choice and free assessment final exam may not be the best fit for your classroom, but there are many other ways you can assess your students’ knowledge at the end of the semester or year. Assigning group projects, a research paper, or a combination between an assessment and a more creative approach are also great options!

Additional Resources

  1. Study Better – The Benefits of Cumulative Exams: Psychology Today has published a brief article on the benefits of cumulative exams, which include the spacing effect, repetition, expectations, and improving education. As final exams can help with long-term learning, taking a look at the advantages of taking cumulative assessments before deciding whether or not you want to give one in your classroom may be beneficial.
  2. 5 Unconventional Final Exams to Give Your Students: We Are Teachers offers a list of five unconventional final exams to give your students, such as the YouTube exam, social platform exam, video game exam, road trip exam, and the create-your-own-app exam. Looking through a few of these ideas may give you some inspiration when you are developing your own final exam.