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The Student Newspaper of Hopkins School

    • Sophia Neilson ‘23 studies for her Statistics midterm.

Managing the Need to Succeed: Exams Before Break

Miriam Levin ’26
Making students take dreaded midterm exams right after the break is not beneficial for anyone. Choosing whether to prioritize grades or rest is a struggle in the first place; adding in midterms and a long break harms students and their mental health. If midterms were before winter break, students would avoid stress, burnout, breaking the handbook, and wasting time.
The two-week break is a time of relaxation and rest, an opportunity to appreciate your loved ones. Teachers and students often use the days off to travel, indulge in hobbies, and more. There is one factor, however,  preventing students from truly relaxing: Exams. Personally, I asked myself questions over the break, such as, “Should I be studying?” or “Have others begun to prepare?” I never had the chance to take a break from my academic responsibilities. The stress that builds up throughout the first half of the school year flows into the next semester without time off. This build-up causes students to be overwhelmed and do worse on their exams and future work. It causes burnout, which is already prevalent in teenagers. According to BMC Medical Education, 55.4% of high school students experience it. Burnout occurs when students are overworked and exhausted. The best and only solution is rest, rest, and more rest. Students at Hopkins cannot rest with the weight of exams sitting on their shoulders. 

It is a known rule in the Hopkins handbook that teachers are not allowed to assign work over break. Although they are not assigning it directly, studying for classes over break because of exams still does count as work. Many Hopkins students are constantly striving for success, so choosing to study over break is not the teachers’ responsibility; however, the pressure to succeed is what is urging students to work during their time off. This causes a breach of the Hopkins Handbook, a promise from Hopkins stating that students should not be working or be assigned work over the break. Is sending out the exam schedule and telling students that exam week is approaching, knowing that students will stress and work, really keeping that promise? Hopkins claims that it supports the mental health of its students and prioritizes rest. The disregard of the handbook during this time makes me question: Is this true? 

What do students learn over the three-week periods before and after the break? Little. After Thanksgiving break, teachers try so hard to cram units and lessons into three weeks. Even students realize that they are working (too hard) to fit more than what should be learned into this time. After winter break, we come back and learn nothing. The first week reviews what was learned before the break, the review week, and the exam week. No new crucial information is taught, which is why the three-week slot between Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks is perfect. Teachers could prepare for three review days rather than two to avoid the current problem and not have students study over Thanksgiving break. This extra review day and the placement of exams before break allows students to bask in their time off while also having proper preparation that does not require stressing over the break. 

Hopkins students are constantly stressed about their need to succeed in the first place. Their breaks are the only time they can fully relax and appreciate their family and friends. It is hard to indulge in hobbies or spend time with your loved ones while the threat of exams looms on the horizon. If students were to take midterms before winter break, it would support the spirit of the handbook and avoid wasting time and burnout. Let Hopkins students forget about their grades. For once.
Editor in Chief 
Asher Joseph

Managing Editor 
Margaret Russell

Claire Billings
Jo Reymond
Rose Porosoff
Eric Roberts
Abby Rakotomavo
Elona Spiewak
Veena Scholand
Miriam Levin
Liliana Dumas
Saisha Ghai
Olivia Yu
Anya Mahajan
Rain Zeng
Winter Szarabajka
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Karun Srihari
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Rebecca Li

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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.
The Razor,
 an open forum publication, is published monthly during the school year by students of: 
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