Teachers discuss return of midyears

While+teachers+see+the+benefits+in+bringing+midyears+back%2C+students+are+concerned+over+the+amount+of+stress+the+exams+create.+

GRAPHIC BY ELSIE MCKENDRY

While teachers see the benefits in bringing midyears back, students are concerned over the amount of stress the exams create.

Excessive sweating, shortness of breath and rapid heartbeat. Sound familiar? According to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, these are symptoms almost all high school students experience during large exams.

After the absence of midyears in the 2020-21 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Head of School Anthony Meyer notified teachers of its return this winter. In order to mitigate stress levels, Meyer has requested teachers to construct a 45 minute midyear rather than a test designed for the full 90 minute testing period.

Sophomore Sasha Lianksi said the upcoming midterm exams concern him.

“Whenever I hear the topic of midyears, I think of the word fear,” Lianski said. “It’s a very stressful test known to take up a lot of time and energy.”

Students are often faced with long hours of studying leading up to midyears, creating a lot of extra pressure. Science teacher Alexis Murphy, who teaches Honors and Advanced Placement Chemistry, said she also feels stress while preparing for midyears.

“It’s very stressful in terms of actually writing the exam, photocopying the exam and making sure the exam gets to the right place at the right time,” Murphy said.

According to Murphy, though it can be a stressful time, midyears provide students and staff with a time to pause, highlighting its benefits.

“ also represent some downtime too because it means that once I have made the review materials and test, there’s nothing to grade because not doing anything new,” Murphy said. “There’s no homework because they’re just reviewing and studying.”

English teacher Rob Primmer, who teaches Honors American Literature and Fiction and Film, also said he views the exam positively.

“The fact that there is a break between the second and third term is really nice,” Primmer said. “The structure of midyears where there’s a little bit of flexibility is always helpful.”

According to Primmer, midyears serve as an important indicator of the levels of academic performance among students.

“Midyears are a way for me to remind students, ‘Hey, this is what we’ve done this whole year.’ It gives students a chance to show that, ‘Yeah, I learned something in the first five months of class,’ and I think that’s important,” Primmer said.

Murphy said that the exam also provides students with the opportunity to obtain important skills.

“I think the ability to study is a skill taught through midyears,” Murphy said. “There’s a difference between studying for a unit test, where a lot of times you can get away with cramming, versus actually understanding what you’ve learned and being able to apply that months later.”

According to Primmer, the acquisition of these skills will benefit a student in the long-run.

“If students are planning to go to college, there will be midyears in college. If students are planning to go into graduate school or professions, there will be long exams that they’ll have to sit for, like law school or medical board exams,” Primmer said.

As a result of last school year’s special circumstances, though already in their sophomore year, the Class of 2024 has had no prior experience with midyears. Murphy said that this may require more attention from the sophomore teachers.

“I think midterm preparation for the Class of 2024 would mean more time to review in class, more time to talk about how it’s going to work and, hopefully, more time provided by the school for students to get extra support,” Murphy said.

When preparing for midyears, students often sit at their desks for long hours, staying up late and putting a strain on themselves. According to Primmer, the result of doing well in midyears points back not only to rigorous studying, but also the maintenance of one’s physical health.

“Doing well ties back to someone who’s rested,” Primmer said. “There’s a whole physical aspect to it that I think is really helpful in terms of testing that we often overlook. Learning the material, but also taking care of your body.”