Finals require essay portion


Classes are required to include some sort of writing proponent to their finals this semester. This is the first time students will take “regular” finals in over a year.

Janie Akers, Editor-in-Chief

As we approach the end of the semester, finals week is just around the corner. This year, teachers of all subjects are required to include an essay portion on final exams. It is typical for English and other world language finals to include a written essay. However, writing an essay for a math class is not a task many students are used to.

The essay portion of final exams is not new students. Before COVID-19, it was common for final exams to include an essay component. The hybrid school year put this tradition on pause due to finals being so irregular, but the essay requirement is now back.

Juniors and seniors are the only students in the building who have ever had a “normal” finals week. For freshmen and sophomores, like myself, finals week is unfamiliar and going to be a new experience. 

I have never written an essay for a class that is not literature-based. I have written countless papers for my English and Spanish classes over the years – and occasionally history as well – but never for math or science. I assume this is because top-notch writing skills are not necessary to become a mathematician.

Different teachers have different criteria they want their students to meet with essays, based on the subject, class, and prompt. My honors English teacher will be looking for accurate grammar, use of punctuation, and the strength of my overall argument, while my math teacher will be looking less at writing skills and more at whether or not I am explaining my work correctly.

“It’s a little weird, but I do think it’s important for people to be able to explain their answers,” math teacher Olivia Watson said.

Most math teachers are providing a “practice essay” day, where students have the chance to write an essay similar to what they will have to on the real exam. The practice essay should help students become familiar with the writing style they will use on a math final versus on an English final. 

For many classes, the essay portion of the exam is not about having perfect writing, but it is about explaining what you have learned. While an English teacher would dock points for improper grammar and punctuation, most science teachers would not. Instead, these teachers would take points off for incorrect answers and insufficient explanations.

While I am not particularly excited about writing an essay as part of each final, I anticipate the essays for my math and science classes to be relatively stress-free. Hopefully, they will be a source of easy points!