Midterms And Finals: A Testy Topic


Gabrielle Daley, Feature Editior

Every student and even teachers dread the burden of midterm and final exams. Students stress levels rise to the maximum while they scramble to study everything they’ve learned over the past months, not really knowing what to expect. Many teachers struggle to make the final or midterm and then stress out having to grade them within a couple of days before grades close. Is all of this struggle worth it? What is the point of a midterm and final?

Apparently, these large tests help teachers understand how well the student has mastered his or her skills in the classroom. However, throughout the semester students take a multitude of tests and quizzes that measure their understanding of the material in a much more in-depth perspective. Students try to cram so much information into their heads that by the time the test comes they struggle to comprehend it or get overworked, and therefore do poorly on the test. Some students crumble under the time limit and freak out because their emotions get the best of them. Midterms and finals are useless and unreliable in terms of showing a student’s capability – they shouldn’t exist.

Furthermore, students now have busier schedules than ever, from their pressures of schoolwork, homework, sports, social life, and other extracurriculars. “On average, teens reported their stress level was 5.8 on a 10-point scale, compared with 5.1 for adults,”NBC news stated in 2014, making teenagers more stressed out than adults. Adding such a high weighing test packed with information to students who don’t even need to take it is uncalled for. “With everything going on in and outside of school, I’m constantly stressing to get through the day. Knowing I have school all day and practice right after school until 5 most days makes me not want to study for finals even more – I just want to go home to relax,” Paul Malinoski, a sophomore, said. Giving midterms and finals just adds to students stress level, and mentally doesn’t do them any good.

At West Springfield, these semester and year tests count for 20% of a pupil’s semester grade. If a student does poorly on them, his or her’s grade could drop two letters. Seeing that if he or she does well on them, a student’s grade could rise profoundly. Frankly, if a student hasn’t worked hard all semester, they really don’t deserve to have a good grade. This weight is overall unfair. Schools in the area have started to drop this weight because studies have shown a high weighing test is poorly affecting students grades. For example, Chicopee has dropped their weight to 5%. “The test is just a test, we want our students to prove their knowledge throughout the course so we might do more project-based learning or have more oral presentations. We’ll have a larger weight on participation and classroom work ethic,” James Blain, the Principal of Chicopee High School stated. We spend approximately 165 hours a year in one class, plus additional hours doing homework, why is 20% of students grades based on a test they took for an hour and forty minutes? If the school can’t possibly get rid of midterms and finals, its administration should at the very least lower the exams’ weight.

If they already don’t, all teachers should encourage students who are already doing poorly in their class to study, and explain to them how to study in order to boost their grade in an efficient manner. Students who are doing very well in the class, students with a 90 or above per say have to take an exam that’s full of material they have aced throughout the semester. For A students, this exam causes unneeded stress, and hours anxiously trying to study random facts.These exams cover content, not skills. Therefore, if these exams are only going to make students who proved their knowledge more stressed out, why should they have to take the tests?

In addition to lowering the weight of exams if they can’t be banished altogether, a student who has a 90 or higher in a course shouldn’t have to take the exam. It’s not only an award to them but also a savior. A student whose grade is already so high has nowhere but to go down by taking a semester exam. Yes, the school offers students who have a Gold Card to exempt two exams that they have a 90 or above in, but there are many students who don’t have Gold Card Status who have A’s and deserve a break. “If the school allows students with 90s in the class to exempt their midterm/final twice a semester what makes it so bad to allow them to exempt any other class they might also do well in? This unnecessary testing makes a stressful environment for students who have been doing well all semester as now 20% of their grade is now riding on this one test and could potentially ruin all of the hard work they did during the semester,” Emma Bowler.

Giving the option to any student, not only seniors (who have senior exemptions), who has a 90 or above in a course to exempt their midterm or final would motivate all students. No fancy Gold Card Status involved, it would make any student strive to get that A. Katie Bargalla, a sophomore, explained that she would put more effort into her schoolwork if it meant not taking an exam. She said, “I hate school – it stresses me out and gives me pimples.”a junior stated.

The school is expecting to prepare us for college exams by administering midterms and finals. Students would still be taking their exams because not every student has an A in every class. If they are straight A students, chances are that they’re going to be in an AP course, and are still going to have to take those extremely long and difficult tests. As for ninth and tenth graders, they’ll have to take MCAS or PARCC tests, Benchmarks and the PSATS. Next year, Chicopee Public School District won’t make freshman and sophomores take these exams because they believe they already take too many assessments. Sophomores only don’t have an English midterm here for the same reason, showing that even West Side administration has slowly noticed this over-testing. The school should prepare students for college by teaching them how to study, for many peers don’t have the skills to prep them for such assessments.

Students are off their rocker trying to cope with school, and giving an inaccurate, heavy weighing test to all students makes both students’ and teachers’ lives more difficult than they have to be.