Better testing schedule equals better success rate

Theresa Vandis '22, Business Manager

If midterms and finals were to be replaced with quarterly testing, the amount of notes and worksheets that students could study from would be a much more concise amount, compared to the usual overflow of unorganized chaos. (Photo by Theresa Vandis ’22)

Due to the new cohort schedule this year, testing circumstances have been up in the air. There have been some recent discussions in the math department on what the midterm will look like this year, one idea being that the teachers will give students an end of quarter assessment every quarter rather than a midterm and final. This proposal should not only be tried out now, but should be used in all of the forthcoming years, COVID or no COVID. 

Using prior knowledge to do well on an exam sounds simple enough, but when one test covers four or even six units of material, studying can quickly become overwhelming.”

Midterms generate a lot of unnecessary stress for students and staff. While students can work hard to earn high scores throughout different units, the midterm can make or break your semester grade. Using prior knowledge to do well on an exam sounds simple enough, but when one test covers four or even six units of material, studying can quickly become overwhelming. 

In the past I have had teachers who created a thirty-page test with complex questions, testing concepts you have already mastered, in hopes that you will remember the concepts better a second time around. Having one test count as 10% of your grade has a tremendous impact on a semester grade, which pressures students to excel on all of their midterm exams. 

Quarterly testing would alleviate much of the stress that is felt around the building during midterm week. Since all the material is recent and fresh in the minds of students, there wouldn’t be  panic in searching through endless notes and papers to find the right material, as students would have better sense of the material on the test.

Having a shorter test would open up possibilities for AP classes to be moved online to the college board website using the lock down browser. This makes it eligible for students at home to take assessments as well. (Photo by Theresa Vandis ’22)

Furthermore, quarterly testing would cause teachers to be less stressed because they wouldn’t have to worry about scheduling separate review days to re-teach students different units. Because these assessments would be given more frequently, students would know what to expect each time. 

While a midterm allows you to review information from the whole semester, it takes up unnecessary amounts of time to revisit all of the information from previous units. It only slows down classes, while time could be spent advancing in the curriculum instead. Not only does midterm testing waste time under ordinary circumstances, but it will be especially prevalent now during this year’s altered schedule. Due to the separation of students into different cohorts and only meeting with the same class roughly twice a week, the amount of material covered in a week has lessened this year. Already more behind than last year concerning material, students simply don’t have time to stop in our tracks to review for a midterm. 

Quarterly testing would save tremendous amounts of time because covering less material would mean spending less time on review. While historically, midterms have been a challenging time at Staples High School, changes to the way we approach testing could be the key to student success. Quarterly assessments would be the perfect way to wrap up each quarter, giving students a review of their previous knowledge without taking up exorbitant amounts of time and stress.