Fighting midterm hysteria: students share stories, teachers share tips


Graphic by Benjamin Buchalter '25.

The midterm schedule operates on the same periodic basis as the regular schedule, meaning if students have a free period they do not have to attend school during that time.

It’s that time of year again. As you walk the halls of Staples High School, you can almost smell the anxiety wafting through the halls, drifting from room to room; the terrified anticipation is so thick in the air that you could cut it with a knife. Like a virus, the worries spread. The terrors multiply, and the hysteria becomes epidemic. In the end, however, it’s an unavoidable apocalypse. Dread it, run from it– midterms week approaches the same.

But is the fear justified? Probably not.

Leading into midterms, anxiety is higher among students who have never had the assessments compared to those who have. This fear, despite the efforts of teachers, persists in students.

“I’m, like, anxious and angry. And every worst emotion that there is,” Bronwynn Kosut ’26 said.

Anxiety surrounding midterms is typical due to the high stakes of the assessment and their proximity to the end of winter break. Freshmen at Staples, however, have never experienced a midterm; their only familiarity with the assessment is stories spread between friends and media. The exaggerated stories lead to untempered – and often irrational – fear of the exams. 

“Students do sometimes seem a little bit anxious and concerned about midterms because it can feel a little overwhelming,” teacher Mary-Anne Brennan said. “Especially if it’s their first time taking it.” 

Don’t worry too much, don’t stress too much, have a good breakfast in the morning and use your time wisely on those half-days. Also, reach out to teachers if you have questions.

— Teacher Mary-Anne Brennan.

Despite this anxiety, most seasoned high schoolers have had their expectations tempered somewhat by experience with midterm assessments. 

“[Midterms are] going to be pretty chill,”  Samuel Zwick-Lavinsky ’25 said. “You miss a lot of school, take one test per class. I don’t think it’s that bad to be honest.” 

One major difference between this year’s midterm assessments and last year’s is in how the results are represented and weighted. Last year, midterms and finals were graded as part of a student’s quarterly grade, whereas this year, they have been moved back to being graded separately, determining 20% of a student’s semester grade. Midterm grades are seen in the “E1” column on Powerschool.

“We didn’t have a choice last year,” Jennifer Giudice, math teacher, said. “We just couldn’t separate midterms.”

Students will be given a 45-minute recess between each test. This break will not only provide wellness activities, but will serve as last-minute study opportunities for students. Giudice recommends packing a lunch, as the cafeteria is expected to be completely overwhelmed by students during this break.

“Having a break between the midterms is a good idea,” Sam Tulupman ’25 said. “I’ll be fine as long as I study for them.”

The prospect of having to study late into the night for midterms is a recurring anxiety at Staples, despite the general abundance of material, advice and strategy that is available on the road leading up to midterms.

“Don’t worry too much, don’t stress too much, have a good breakfast in the morning and use your time wisely on those half-days,” Brennan said. “And reach out to teachers if you have questions.”