How your GPA actually benefits from “fifth quarter grades”

After months of preparation, Regents exams will be taken by students all across New York State in the next two weeks.

After months of preparation, Regents exams will be taken by students all across New York State in the next two weeks.

Nikki Stern, Contributing Writer

With the end of the school year rapidly approaching, many Schreiber students are preparing for the New York State Regents exams.  Though these tests are administered during the fourth quarter, in many classes, students’ Regents exam scores are counted as a “fifth quarter,” thereby making up approximately 15 percent of a student’s final grade in the given class. 

Students are beginning to wonder: is this fifth quarter beneficial to their final grade or will it end up hurting them?  To many students, Regents exams are seen as a “gift” that can easily bring their average up to the next letter grade at the end of the year due to their significant impact on their final grades.

“The fifth quarter approach can be very helpful because it can boost your grade up,” said sophomore Tori Kaufman.  “The Regents are not typically hard, so it should be a helpful boost to your final grade.”  

There are plenty of elements to the fifth quarter rule that appeal to students.  The Regents exams can be seen as an accumulation of a whole year of learning, and they represent how well students comprehend the material they have learned.  They should have a greater weight than a unit test due to the greater amount of information included.  

Questions on Regents exams are typically more generalized and are usually based on application rather than memorization.  That means that the scores are not about information that was only taught in the fourth quarter. 

“I believe that there should be a fifth quarter because the Regents are a reflection of our overall knowledge and what we retained from the entire year,” said sophomore Serafina Paratore.

While many students enjoy the fifth quarter approach, others are strongly against it. For those who have difficulties with taking tests, weighting one exam so heavily is though to be unfair.  If students work hard in class all year, they should not be punished for doing poorly on one exam.  

“It shouldn’t be a separate quarter because they are administered in the fourth quarter. One test should not be 15 percent of your grade.  All of your other hard work should be factored in,” said Senior Una Stopford. 

However, despite the fact that some students have expressed their discontent for one test being so crucial to their final grade, it only makes sense for the Regents exam to be weighted as a fifth quarter.  This is because there are far more people who perform higher on cumulative exams than separate unit tests, so this system benefits the majority.

There are always going to be differing personal opinions depending on the student, but for average test takers who are willing to study for the Regents exams, the fifth quarter and its weight can turn their grade around, or make up for a slightly lower grade in one or two of the other quarters.

The Regents exams take place over the course of two weeks after Schreiber’s classes have ended in early June.  This gives students time to prepare for these exams that will make up a significant portion of their cumulative average.

These exams are also graded on a curve, comparing students all across New York State.  This is beneficial for most Schreiber students due to the overall high performance levels of the Port Washington School District.  Schreiber students have higher average test scores than many other New York schools, so their grades tend to be curved up.  

           While some may find it unjust to base such a large percentage of a final grade on one exam, the fifth quarter approach to Regents exam scores is the best possible way to account for a cumulative exam of its sorts.  Because of the study time allotted, typically general questions, and a generous curve, counting Regents exam scores as a large part of their final grade tends to have many more benefits than disadvantages.