Midterm Week is Back

Midterm Week is Back

Alyssa Hernandez, Editor

Many students are experiencing midterm week for the first time. But do midterms serve a purpose? 

Midterms tend to be a sensitive topic for students. After years of dealing with COVID, midterms are making a return. These long, extended exams are a type of formative assessment, to measure students’ grasp of the course materials and identify areas that need work. Midterm exams may also be used as a summative assessment to contribute to final grades depending on the school or course. The issue lies with the fact that students have not taken midterms since 2020. Standardized test scores are often tied to important outcomes, such as graduation and school funding. There are advantages and disadvantages to midterms, although many students may have a bias.

Such high-stakes testing can place undue stress on students and affect their performance. Many students try to cram in hours of studying curriculum that they have been taught a couple of days before the exam; if you are willing to risk it, then maybe the night of. Some students may put an immense amount of pressure on themselves to pass their midterms depending on the importance of the test. According to the School of Education, these tests also fail to account for students who learn in different ways. Not every student learns the same way. For example, a student who struggles to answer a multiple-choice question about grammar or punctuation may be an excellent writer. This can go for many subjects taught. Standardized tests are thought to be fair because every student takes the same test and evaluations are largely objective, but testing everyone the same is arguably biased because “it fails to account for variables such as language deficiencies, learning disabilities, difficult home lives, or varying knowledge of US cultural conventions” (School of Education). Midterms also place pressure on teachers as they can feel forced to meet specific testing standards throughout the beginning months of school. 

Although midterms may lead to a high level of stress for students, there ultimately is a purpose to the testing. The purpose of a midterm is to evaluate students’ progress in a course. A midterm exam identifies areas that need improvement and the results can be used to shape the rest of the course material. Midterms provide feedback to both students and teachers about what has been learned and what still needs to be learned. Without a gauge for teachers to understand what students are struggling with, it will be harder for teachers to provide help for their students. 

Even though midterms can be one of the worst weeks for a student, they provide important information for teachers. Without being able to tell where students are struggling, no progress can be made. 

* Image from FHS ParentSquare