Graphic by Hannah Conn '23
Thinking back to 2019-20, it’s hard to picture what exactly happened during the mid-term exam week. There are faint memories of therapy dogs in front of the auditorium, warm cookies outside of guidance and on the other end of the spectrum, the enormous weight of stress and anxiety on the shoulders of all Staples students.
None of the current students of Staples have had a Staples-proctored exam season since January 2020. To put that into perspective, that means that seniors haven’t had an exam since their sophomore year, juniors have not had an exam since their freshman year and sophomores and freshmen will be experiencing their first ever Staples midterms.
Exams in any regular year are nerve-wracking, stressful and hard to get through, but Deborah Slocum of the Staples Guidance Staff wants to emphasize the importance of using healthy tactics to help ease students into the exam season.
“Students struggle most with the mental idea of a test, it’s the titles ‘midterm’ and ‘final’ that stress kids out the most,” Slocum said. “The message the staff is trying to push the most is that the best way to succeed at these exams, and in school as a whole, is to take care of yourself.”
The difference between treating your body kindly and not can be the difference between a good mid-term and a bad one. By eating balanced diets, sleeping well, exercising and easing slowly into an organized study schedule, Staples can be well prepared for exams this winter.
As provided by Staples, the exam schedule this year is as follows: in just about two weeks of exams, students will be provided a review day on Wednesday, Jan. 12 and then will participate in exams on Thursday and Friday. After the long weekend, students will have another review day on Tuesday, Jan. 18 and then two full days of exams on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday, Jan 21 is the make-up exam day.
Christopher Johnson ’23 sees this year’s exams as a challenge and something to seriously prepare for.
“While the tests themselves are not making or breaking our final grades completely, they’re definitely important.” Johnson said. “And I think that the one midterm that the current juniors had in 9th grade is not enough to prepare us for this year’s midterm and final.”
Without any exams for several years, there is a disparity for the current juniors’ preparation for these exams because students are out of practice. Johnson believes this gives teachers the ability to truly help their students.
“Teachers should definitely give out study-guides this year. Even for classes that study-guides are a bit less common for, teachers should try and give us a guiding hand,” he said.
Study-guides, project-based midterms and in-class exam preparations are all ways that teachers can help students get through these tests.
Samantha Paris ’23 feels that the juniors are not prepared enough for these midterms.
“For the past two years, we’ve had such a cut up academic program that we’ve barely learned how to learn,” Paris said. “I haven’t been thinking all too much about midterms yet, but considering we’ve only had them once over the past three years of school, I’m dreading the difficulty ahead of us.”
In such an important academic year, juniors face a large agenda of tests: midterms and finals, ACT/SAT and AP exams are all large tests that pose a tremendous stress to the junior class. So, having teachers as a strong support system throughout this year is vital to their success.
Freshmen and sophomores, who have never had any midterms, see this year’s exams as a daunting, but also useful learning experience moving further into their highschool careers.
Ava Coyle ’25 is aware of the challenge of these midterms but is also hopeful for a good experience as it is her first real exam.
“I’m definitely a bit stressed and anxious about what the midterms will be like, but it’s only my first one, so I’m going into it with an open mind,” Coyle said.
Slocum emphasizes the idea that while they are important and stressful, midterm exams are not life altering. Both midterm and final exams account for 10% of our final grade each, or a total of 20% combined. With each grading quarter weighted 20% as well, the reality is that exams are not nearly as detrimental as the Staples student body may see them.
“[The counselors] have already told the freshman, nothing shows up on your transcript except your final grade,” Slocum said. “Keeping perspective is so important, the midterm is only 10% of your final grade. It is a learning experience and there is time to come back from a less-than-desired midterm grade.”