Was the New Midterm Schedule Useful?


Stephen Playford, Contributing Writer

Just as students are barely clinging on for the end of the first semester, midterm week strikes! Panic ensues as students scramble to prepare for long hours of studying, or maybe praying, so that they can close out the semester with one last good grade. However, this year Poly took a progressive approach to the traditional style of midterms, with changes such as continuing regular class periods, no dedicated testing time, midterms both before and after winter break, and multi-day tests — it was certainly a very different experience.

From conversations I had, I noticed that the new format generated a lot of questions from both teachers and students, many of whom would rather have a traditional style test week. To put it simply, the two separate midterm weeks were very strange. For the classes that had tests scheduled for before break, which included foreign language and most STEM classes, the first week went smoothly, with standard test prep and an eventual midterm, and for the most part it felt relatively normal. 

However, for humanities courses, which had to reserve their midterms for after winter break, it was the opposite. Because the teachers were not allowed to assign homework during the first part of midterms, most classes ended up in this strange limbo where students were only half paying attention while they daydreamed about the upcoming break. Furthermore, the teachers had no material to teach because their papers and assignments wouldn’t be due until after break. 

Now that break is over, the roles were reversed. Ultimately the two weeks felt extremely unproductive because the schedule seemed to throw off lesson plans and encouraged a drop in engagement from students. I understand the intentions were to reduce anxiety over midterms; however, the schedule restricted study hours and provoked even longer nights of studying. 

In order to actually reduce stress throughout exam weeks such as midterms and finals, the students should be given as much time as possible to study for their tests. And while having midterms all in one week may seem counterproductive, the students leave school earlier and have the rest of the day to study. While the idea of a week of exams is nerve racking for some, the actual process is far less stressful because each day the students can focus solely on their test without distractions of other classes. Poly Prep is a prep school, and as such it should prepare us for the far more stressful college exam weeks ahead of us. As we approach the second semester, I hope that the school considers a change in the schedule for our finals at the end of the year.