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    • History teacher Sarah Belbita photographed seventh graders at the Pequot Museum during exam week.

Changes to Relieve Stress: The New Midyear Exam Schedule

Zoe Kim '20 Senior News Editor
This past January, Hopkins students experienced a new term exam schedule.
Having been instituted a few years ago, midyear exams are the culminating assessments for the first half of the academic year.

Casey Goldberg ’20 described exams as “a source of constant stress and anxiety culminating in a few tests.” With this stress, some students, such as Sabaga Kombo ’24, wished “for there to be no exams at all.” In an effort to relieve student anxiety, the academic departments made changes. Classes have the option to replace term exams with a final project. The Junior School had minimal required exams, with the seventh grade sitting for Math and the eighth grade for Math and English.

With the exam schedule having undergone several adjustments in the past few years, Goldberg stated that the new schedule “came as no surprise.” Kristine Waters, Dean of Academics, stated the purpose of the change: “The goal was for students to have one exam per day.” Elaine Plante, the Administrative Assistant to the Dean of Academics, added that the addition of Thursday morning exams was meant to “reduce student stress and the ‘crunch’ that was often found in the first two days of exam week.” With this, tests were pushed to Thursday in hopes of spreading out the week of study.

However, the new schedule has gotten a mix of reviews from students. Serena Ta ’20 thought the additional Thursday made the exam week “too spread out.” Because Ta had no exam on Tuesday, she stated, “I didn’t like the day off in the middle of my exams because I lost momentum to study.” Although the schedule was successful in elongating the week of exams, Andrew Sack ’22 thought it would be “more efficient to leave the previous schedule of three days of exams rather than four,” saying it would be “more preferable to get it over with.”

Other students, however, enjoyed the change. Cyrus Sadeghi ’24 preferred the new schedule: “I thought it was helpful because it gave me more time to study in the afternoon.” Although admitting that an extra day of break would have been nice, Josh Seidner ’20 agreed, saying that the schedule “made it easier to study for the tests one at a time” therefore “lessening stress levels dramatically.” Additionally, many students enjoyed having their one exam of the day in the morning. Katie Park ‘21 found having one exam a day in the morning “extremely helpful. It was nice to get the tests over in the morning and have the rest of the day to study for the next one.” Speaking on the alternative of having an extra day of the long weekend, Park stated, “Because the entire week is already dedicated to exams anyway I didn’t mind the extra day, being that I was already in the mindset.”

Not only has student opinion varied, but teacher thoughts have also been varied. With English shifted to the last day of exams, the grading time changed for some teachers. Although recognizing that the new schedule “sets a more reasonable pace for studying,” English teacher Dan Drummond commented, “the only downside was having the longer Shakespeare exam (a senior elective) on the last day.” Due to the fact that senior grades are due earlier than other classes because of the college application deadlines, Drummond pointed out the new schedule “made it more of a push” to finish grading within the allotted four days, compared to last year’s six days. With the science exam only shifting from Tuesday to Wednesday, however, Science teacher Emilie Harris “did not notice much of a change with her grading process.” Despite this, Harris agreed with Drummond, saying “the exam schedule was successful in getting the majority of students to not have two exams a day and allowing more time in the afternoon.”

The 2020 Term 2 exam schedule has not been finalized. Plante added that “the Academic Policy Committee has not decided if we will do the same thing next year for Term 1 exams.” She stated that next year will be determined “after evaluating how this year went and then making a decision."
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The Razor's Edge reflects the opinion of 4/5 of the editorial board and will not be signed. The Razor welcomes letters to the editor but reserves the right to decide which letters to publish, and to edit letters for space reasons. Unsigned letters will not be published, but names may be withheld on request. Letters are subject to the same libel laws as articles. The views expressed in letters are not necessarily those of the editorial board.
     
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