There's no doubt in saying that the finals were a complete pain for everyone in the world. Students, professors, and staff all cooperating with each other in order to pass the finals season. For us, winter doesn't mean the happy holidays, it means the countless hours of studying, stress, and misery. When we do finish taking our final exams, we feel even more anxious while waiting for the exam scores to come. However when the exam scores came out it really shocked me to see that the average score on most of my exams were either a C or a low B and considering that the final usually accounts for more than one-fifth of our total semester grade, this score isn't pleasant at all. Our GPA will not be coming out above 3.0 if our final exams really do reflect on how much of the course material we learned.
Everyone learns at a different pace. Some struggle with the learning material while others may excel at it without any help from others. The learning style of each student is also different; some learn by learning, some learn by engaging, and some learn from just reading the textbook. So it's fair to say that even if all the students put in the same amount of effort into a class, the proficiency of each student on the course material will differ by a significant margin depending on how well a professor teaches his/her class.
Everyone wants to earn an A+ on their final exam but it's clear that an average score of A+ on a final exam is practically impossible given that everyone has a different proficiency level of the course material unless the final exam is super easy which I highly doubt any professor would let his/her students off the hook that easily. However an average score of a D or low C is equally bad because it demonstrates that the professor either didn't teach the course material to the students well enough or the scope of the final exam is beyond the things students learned in lectures. So what should be the optimal final average?
Coming out of the final exam season I saw that many of my exams were not a very great assessment of my proficiency levels in that course material as every single final exam I took has lead me dropping my semester grade before including the final exam grade despite getting above average on most of my exams. What shocked me was that the average grade on exams were near the edge of failing the course, meaning that there was a significant fraction of students who failed the course if the final exam really does reflect how well we knew the course material. This is not a matter of how high or how low the average final should be, it should be a matter of how well the finals reflect the student's abilities and course knowledge more than anything else. If the final exam has it that a large part of the class is failing the course, either most of the students are slacking or there's serious misinterpretation on how well the students know the course material on the professor's part. So in the end how hard should the final exams be? It should be hard enough so that we the students know how to do each problem on the exam.