Sarah Vizz and Assal Nasir
With the leisurely holiday season coming to a close, students are lurched back into a sleep deprived, anxiety-filled schedule associated with looming midterms. Research has linked the stress of exams to life-threatening habits. Students are now cramming for hours on end, pushing their body past boundaries by neglecting sleep, eating, and drinking for hours. Some are even resorting to drugs for an increased attention span. Over the past decade, many students are beginning to illegally use drugs created to treat ADHD for exams. Anywhere from 15% to 40% of high school students have admitted to using these drugs at least once, while a staggering 66% of Ivy League students have confessed as well.
In Radnor High School, many students seem to agree–exams are stressful. Counting for 10% of the final grade, doing inadequately on a midterm can take a serious toll. However, when interviewed students acknowledged these types of cumulative testing provides an opportunity to review and solidify the material taught for the first six months of school. “Midterms are a checkpoint to see if students are understanding the material,” math teacher Mrs. Staiber explains. “However, the 10% weight on them is a bit excessive.” Mrs. Staiber’s statement rings true with many. One test cannot be a determiner of how a student does in the class. Combining natural test taking ability, mental stability, with various arbitrary factors, some midterms don’t measure how well the student has grasped the concept, but how effectively they can cram.
Some students believe that midterms are a good thing. Two freshmen, Sebastian Bryant and Adrien Baptiste Philardeau-Planche, who were interviewed on their opinion on the midterms, responded that midterms are actually good, the only problem being that they should be more spaced out. Indeed, the fact that midterms for so many different classes occur in such a crammed time-frame leaves students with an all-too-familiar dilemmas of “Which test should I study for first?” and “How can I study different subjects at the same time?” Even though having midterms may be beneficial for progress, their proximity to each other makes for excessive stress.
Yet other students at Radnor High School seem to despise midterms. An anonymous senior stated that she “hates them” because “the teachers don’t slow down and still assign things.” As if studying material that was taught for half the year isn’t enough, the fact that teachers continue to pile mountains after mountains of homework, tests and quizzes, and projects doesn’t seem to be lowering the stress level of the students. The anonymous senior states that there isn’t really isn’t a solution to this stress issue, explaining that “it can’t be gauged because everyone has different classes….different levels of difficulty.” It’s true that while some students take various AP and honors classes, others don’t, making it rather difficult to find a solution that suits everyone.
Improvements could be made to ensure students can learn and master the material efficiently, without experiencing unhealthy amounts of anxiety. Sophomore Emilija Sagaityte suggests that for the month prior, teachers could focus solely on midterm review without adding more tests and assignments. Another alternative approach could be opting out of the midterm, for those students who demonstrate excellent performance and solid understanding. School is supposed to provide students with an education to better prepare them for life, not generate destructive amounts of stress. Midterms should be set in place to aid students in understanding the material, not a competition for who can cram and memorize the information in a short period of time, only to be forgotten the next day.
Midterms are coming. There’s no denying that. They’re like a slap in the face that sends you back to reality after a dream-like, two week long holiday break.