The dreaded five hour days of midterms week. Trying to sit still at a desk for two hours at a time, decide between A and C or B and D 100 times over. The feeling is all too familiar for most students, or the impending fear of the rest.
But not all students are condemned to sit at a desk taking a 50 to 100 question multiple choice or short answer test for 120 minutes. Many classes across all the departments have untraditional midterms now, including science classes, social study classes and language classes.
“Different types of courses should have different tests,” Sara Pinchback, Social Studies teacher said matter-of-factly. Pinchback’s U.S. History honors class has no midterm at all this year, instead using the two hour class period to work on their current unit. While not against standard multiple choice tests for more content driven courses like her AP Econ. class, Pinchback believes that, “U.S. History is an inquiry course,” and multiple choice wouldn’t do justice to the type of thinking done in class.
Apparently the language department agreed that certain subjects need certain tests, since many languages got away with the multiple choice tests given in past years and are now conducting a Performance Based Assessment (PBA) as the midterm.
Andrew Taets ’18, a French honors student, reiterated Pinchback’s point, saying, “The PBA for languages works better than a multiple choice because language should be about learning and forming sentences and being able to apply it, and PBA tests that more effectively.” After having a practice PBA in class, Taets says that, “It’ll be more interactive and more effectively test my skills in the class.”
While not all science classes are able to move onto inquiry based midterms to test the subject’s content, some electives have pushed right past ordinary tests. Natalie Lieberson ’17 explained that in forensics, their midterm started two weeks ago with a set-up crime scene. The two classes examined the evidence, determined the guilty party and then will use the make up day next Wednesday to have a mock trial.
While the midterm’s length causes Lieberson some annoyance, “The advantage is that you get to do something unique for the midterm that no other class would do,” she said. Lieberson also agrees with Taets in regards to testing the students ability to apply the subject. “The point of this midterm is to test if we can use these skills in real life,” Lieberson says.