Midterms: Different testing dates affect students



Hand completing a multiple choice exam.

Many schools have midterm exams to assess students’ knowledge at the end of the first semester. In North Carolina, midterms usually occur in late January rather than before winter break because of the state law that mandates school must start on or near Aug. 25.

Northwest abolished school-wide midterm testing more than five years ago; however, some math and science teachers still give their own midterms.

“These tests are made by the teacher and cover concepts that their students have covered up to that point in the semester,” honors chemistry teacher Katie Pidsosny said.

At Northwest, the teachers who decide to give midterms also determine whether they will give it before or after winter break.

“I find it less stressful for me and the students to test before break,” chemistry teacher Catherine Haywood said.

On one hand, having a midterm before break frees up family time during the holidays.

“Taking them before winter break was good because I feel like I get them out of the way and can come back to school in the new year and start fresh with schoolwork,” sophomore Lauren Travland said. “I don’t have to stress about it over break.”

However, having a midterm in December means having to study while everyone else is festively enjoying the upcoming holidays.

“The downside was that I had to cram in studying with the excitement of the holidays, and it was stressful,” Travland said.

Other teachers give midterms to students after the break at the end of the second quarter, which comes with positives and negatives, as well. Many students do not enjoy having a big test hanging over their head while they are trying to enjoy their break.

“(Midterms) put a lot of pressure on me because I was just used to doing nothing over break,” sophomore Matthew Langston said.

Students also have a lot of work in other classes at the end of the first semester, which means they’ll have to balance studying for midterms along with everything else. With added work, students may become stressed to get everything done.

“At the end of each quarter is when I am the most stressed,” Langston said.

With positives and negatives of midterm testing, teachers want the students to remember the importance and significance of these tests.

“The purpose of the midterms is to give students a chance to review the material that they have learned so far this year,” Pidsosny said. “This helps to solidify the material before they learn any more concepts that build off this material.”

This also is a chance to give the teachers a chance to assess what students are still struggling with.

“We can then embed the skills students still need to work on into the lessons with the new material,” Pidsosny said.