What is the Significance of Midterms?

What is the Significance of Midterms?

Midterm exams appear to be a huge ball of stress to many high school students during the months of December and January. Why do we need to have midterms if the largest byproduct seems to be stress? Especially since we are going to have finals at the end of the year anyway.

We had the pleasure to interview history teacher Mr. Ames who has been teaching at Ipswich High School for 21 years, and he was able to give us a perspective that students rarely think about. He actually said that midterms are more helpful to teachers than students could imagine. He specifically said that it helps him time out his year and keep track of how much material he has taught, and what material he needs to teach before the semester ends. But does that mean that we should still have them if they are at the cost of the students?

One big issue with midterms is the time consumption that is required by both students and teachers. First, and most obvious, midterms take away a whole week of valuable learning time that is converted into half days of exams only. Additionally, students and teachers will spend many hours in the time leading up to the exams. Students need to take extra time to study for their exams; teachers need time to prepare their exams and help students study. What is the end result of all of this? A series of exams that will account for only 10% of the semester grade.

“I write this mid-January, in the middle of the midterm crunch. My students have come to my class every day this week to take their English 9 and 10 midterm exams. Over two hours of testing split over four days, wiping out a week of school”(TechInsider). The time consumption of midterms is even worse for the AP Courses, which are on a strict deadline of Mid-May. Too many snow days, or time wasted on midterms, and the students aren’t ready for their pseudo college exam. 

Some students and teachers suggest that students should only need to take a final exam, something that is typical of a college course. That way, students only need to prepare for a singular cumulative exam. Not having the stress inducing midterms could even ease the stress of an already anxious population of pre-college students. One solution, for a school like Ipswich High School, is to have final exams in January for the courses that are a semester in length. Then, wait until June to hold exams for the year-long courses. This would eliminate the majority of time wasted in January for unnecessary midterms and cut down on the stress of the students. Students are already stressed about college, jobs, and planning their life after Ipswich High School.