The Case Against Midterm Hatred

Why these exams are not as bad as some think


January is the unofficial worst month of the school year. After returning from holiday break, a dismal 30 or so hours after New Year’s Eve, students return with four full weeks of school to look forward to. No delayed openings. No days off. Not to mention that Christmas cheer is gone, and our standards for weather are so low that a 40-degree day feels like a heat wave. Perhaps the thing students dread the most about January is the midterm exams that take place at the end of the month.

However, this does not necessarily have to be the case.

Yes, midterms count for exactly 10% of a student’s final grade for any course in which one is required. Yes, a D or a C on the exam can bring your first semester grade down. However, a single test that only makes up 1/10th of that final letter of your transcript most likely will not be powerful enough to permanently destroy your average. (Please don’t test this claim out by getting a 30% on anything this week.)

Also, we should all be thankful we were not in high school four years ago, when midterms and final exams were required for all 5 core departments: English, Math, World Language, Science, and Social Studies. That number of mandatory mid-term exams has now dwindled down to three. It is also important to note that most English exams are skills-based, requiring no memorization or hours of cramming in the nights right before the exam date.

For the most part, teachers will review material from September and October in the week leading up to the test. There are not many other times when students are essentially provided hours of studying during school, with teachers helping along the way.

I understand that what makes the week of midterms additionally taxing are all of the assignments and test crammed in before the end of the marking period. However, the fact remains that the tests themselves are not the stressor people make them out to be.

We also can’t forget the extra hour of sleep we are afforded on the first day and the extra five hours we can enjoy on the second. Whereas most tests in school are taken after the harsh 7:40 arrival time, we are more energized overall when taking midterms. Being able to leave school an hour early also makes Thursday and Friday much more enjoyable.

As with every other opportunity high school provides, we should look at midterms and final exams as learning experiences. In college, cumulative assessments like these can count for the majority of a course’s final letter grade, if not all of it. Now is the time to establish efficient study habits by figuring out what works best for each of us.

Midterm week is only as stressful as we believe it to be. Keeping all of the aforementioned benefits in mind, and maintaining a “glass half-full” mentality, can ensure the end of January does not turn out as bad as we all tend to think it will be.