• McKenna Lewis

Forget the Holidays, It Is Midterm Season

Updated: Feb 8, 2021

With the air chilling and the holiday break fast approaching there is only one thing on many students’ minds. It is not the upcoming break from work that they will spend with family, opening gifts and playing games. It is the grueling week of midterms they will have to face before the semesters end.

In the past few years, the West students spent the week before Christmas break spending two hours in a class taking an exam that could make or break their average. This year, however, almost the entire student population will be taking their midterms from their own rooms, porches and dining room tables.

“I think taking midterms virtual is a way for students to feel more comfortable taking the test since they are in a home environment,” AP student Brandon Perez explains. “There is also a downside where the student may not feel motivated to do as well because they are not in an academic environment.”

Another change in the midterm world is the exemption policy. Before, freshmen could exempt two midterms, sophomores three, juniors four and seniors could exempt any they were eligible for. Now everyone can exempt non-EOC tested subjects. Not only has the number of exemptions changed, but the requirements as well. Students only need to have an 85 or above average for both the first and second nine-weeks.

“Since attendance is such a hard thing to keep track of this year, I’m glad that the school isn’t letting it affect exemptions. I had a family emergency during the first nine weeks, so I had multiple excused absences. Based on the old policy, I still would have had to take my midterms, despite having all A’s in my classes,” Senior Kanella Cohen continues. “I think if [a student] averages for 1st and 2nd nine weeks are above the 85 minimum, they show an understanding of the subject and do not need a midterm to reassure this. The school should consider keeping the new policy even after the pandemic passes.”

Many parents and teachers would believe that students are excited about the prospect of virtual midterms. However, for many who care about and compete for rank, the fear of people cheating weighs heavily on them. Being at home appears to many as an easy way to cheat, but many teachers are putting precautions in place to make sure that does not happen.

“Teachers are using a combination of lockdown browsers, multiple exams, scrambled exams, and data review to identify cheating on midterms. And, of course, the exams will be timed which makes cheating very difficult - especially with teacher generated tests that make it nearly impossible to find answers though a search engine,” AP US History teacher Victoria Rozner explains.

For the students who do not meet exemption requirements, or are taking a chance at raising their GPA, finding a study habit that works for them is a top priority. Studying at home for some may be tricky but, class of 2022 Valedictorian Paxton Henley has some advice.

“Take notes during class and if you don't get a study guide for a test, then try to make your own. Study over several days and do not cram it all into one day/night. Use flashcards for memorization. Color code your notes, it helps the brain to remember what certain concepts relate to each other. Draw diagrams, graphs, table, etc. if you don't understand a concept (example: drawing diagrams in biology to help understand what process is happening). Finally, don't study in your room/bed.”

Overall, the new midterm policy is a lot different than previous years and has stirred up mixed feelings in both students and teachers. For those who are required to take the midterm it will be important to study before the test. If you are not taking the exam, remember you are still required to log in at the beginning of class for attendance purposes.

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