By Maithri Nimmagadda and Esther Kardos
For this school year, midterms are behind us, meaning at least one metaphorical weight has been lifted off our shoulders. However, with one big test behind us, another looms in the future as finals are soon to come. And with 25% of a marking period grade dependent on this one test, accounting for one eighth of our total grade, students are already dreading having to take it – perhaps with good reason.
Midterms and final exams often present many problems for students both during and prior to the exams. There is, for one, the fact that these tests cause stress for every student taking them. This stress, as a result, may have health consequences, too, and these symptoms are even more prominent for teenagers, whose bodies are still growing. In addition to stress, the weight for these two main tests may be overwhelming. If a usually high-achieving student is having a bad day when she is taking these tests, then losing one, or even two, letter grades could be a possibility – thus undermining her other hard work from the rest of the marking period. Plus, at their cores, midterms and finals arguably are based less on ability to learn and comprehend as they are on ability to answer multiple-choice questions. Some students are naturally proficient at this skill, while others aren’t, meaning that the tests may put some at a disadvantage.
Despite these arguments, there are several benefits to taking a midterm or a final exam. Such benefits include helping test takers review what they’ve learned in the first half of the year or at the end of the year and boosting the grades of individuals who do well on these tests. Also, final exams in particular signal that one is prepared to move on to the next course level and has mastered the previous content. Midterms, likewise, may signal to a teacher that some content should reviewed if many students show a lack of proficiency in any particular areas. For these reasons among others, the district has chosen to maintain finals and midterms as part of most courses.
Thus, the midterms and final exams, the tests that determine 25% of our second or fourth marking period grade, have both their pros and cons. Therefore, each student can evaluate whether taking these tests is truly beneficial to him or her and perhaps remember that his or her work includes everything accomplished in each course this year.