By Elyana Schosek
Following a three-day weekend in remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr., students at Springville-Griffith Institute High School came back for a full day Tuesday and then had three days “off” for midterm exams. Students were only required to come to school if they had an exam.
There were both morning and afternoon exams on Wednesday and Thursday, which were mainly social studies and math, respectively. Friday was science exams but limited to just the morning as the eighth graders visited the school later that day.
Not all courses had a midterm during this week. Teachers have some degree of choice in whether or not they give a midterm and what it consists of. For courses that have a Regents Exam at the end of the year, the teachers use questions from past Regents. This gives students a chance to work through the questions under time pressure.
For example, the Advanced Placement U.S. History class was asked to write an essay also called a DBQ or Document-Based Question. There are a lot of guidelines for this type of essay, so it’s a lot to think about in the limited time that’s given. The scheduled midterm time was a good chance for the class to write a DBQ under time pressure in a legitimate testing environment and see how they’d do along with what aspects they need to work on.
During the week, the school offers Regents Exams which are open to all the students. The January exams are mainly for students who had either failed before or simply wanted to retake it for a higher score. This is just one of the three times the Regents are held in a year along with June and August. Most students take them in June at the end of the school year but there are some exceptions.
Some teachers choose not to give a midterm or final and instead assign a semester-long project or don’t have anything at all although this applies more to elective classes. For instance, the Developmental Psychology class was given an assignment at the start of the semester which included a research paper on a topic of their choice, a presentation to the class, and the creation of some sort of product. The grade for this was their final grade for the class.
It goes without saying that these assessments serve as a sort of “progress check.” They give students a chance to see what classes they are doing well in and what classes they may need to put more effort into in the second semester.
One of the biggest things coming back to school after midterms is that it’s the start of the second semester which means new schedules for many students. Adding new classes and dropping others, it’s a busy time for the guidance department. Schedule changes are more common with juniors and seniors because they are taking more half-year courses.
For a lot of students, it was hard to believe the year was already half-way done and the realization that midterms were so close hit hard. After the return from midterms, there are only three weeks left before February break which leaves many students counting down until then.