A new approach to exams: Midterms during COVID
photo illustration: Emma Clute
At the end of a typical semester, students take an exam over all the content they covered in the class, but these exams look very different this year with COVID-19. The scheduled dates for midterms this year are Jan. 12-14 and teachers will have the option to assign them. However, they are not mandatory.
The hybrid schedule is one of the main reasons for this. Students have gotten less time in class and with teachers this year than ever before.
“Students have an increased amount of stress put on themselves this year because of the messy schedule,” junior Mudra Patel said. “Most of the time they have to take notes and figure out the work on their own.”
Another big change that is deterring the requirement of midterms is the late start to the school year. Because it started in September, midterms would have to be in January.
“With winter break being around two weeks long, many kids will put off studying and end up forgetting everything they learned prior to break,” Patel said. “Winter break is meant for students to relax and enjoy their time during the holidays with their family; they shouldn't be put in a position where they have to spend that time studying.”
While there are scheduled midterm dates, it’s unlikely that many students will have exams to take with everything that’s going on right now. It’s also unlikely because the midterm dates are running on the normal schedule instead of having extended class periods for exams.
“I don’t think many teachers will assign midterms this year because of the way the schedule falls,” Principal Trond Smith said. “It’s a little bit harder to give a comprehensive exam in 45 minutes and if you're giving it over a period of days, test security becomes an issue as well.”
Some teachers might opt to assign projects instead of midterms so students will still have a cumulative assignment for the semester.
“I like the idea of doing projects as an alternative to midterms,” Patel said. “With a project you’re able to use notes and help each other. It's a lot less stress and a lot more fun.”
Other teachers are choosing not to have midterms at all and continue normal learning on the assigned midterm days.
“I think teachers choosing to opt out of midterms could be a good decision,” Patel said. “I feel like the material you learn in unit one is always in some way connected to the next units, so students will still remember the material.”
Regardless of what each teacher decides to do for midterms, final exams will be identical.
“Whatever is done for a class during this semester will set the precedent for the spring. So, if you don’t have an exam in a class in the winter, you’re not going to have one in the spring,” Smith said.