By: Sofiya Idiyatullina
In the past few years, there have been changes to the midterm and final formats. COVID-19 has been the biggest cause for the changes. In the 2019-2020 school year, the Class of 2023 freshmen got a glimpse into what a high school exam is like and jumped into the new experience. After taking midterms, the students were introduced to the study skills needed for learning the class material. A current junior, Taylor Register, spoke on her freshman experience for midterms: “As I did for my middle school finals, I had to study a good amount for all of my freshman midterms. It was a little stressful being the first time I’ve had to experience midterms, but they went alright. However, after I brain dumped all the information I studied onto the tests, I soon forgot most of it the minute I left for winter break.”
Photo of Taylor Register (Photo by Annabella Rozin, class of 2024 )
However, things rapidly changed as COVID-19 numbers rose, and government precautions were taken based on CDC guidelines for the safety of the students and faculty on campus. The finals for the 2019-2020 school year were online, which meant that teachers did not have a way to monitor for cheating, so most decided to do projects. Register said most of her “teachers assigned projects rather than tests. With having to do research, set up the project, know the material, and sometimes present, I felt like I took away a lot more from doing the projects rather than taking a final test.”
For the school year of 2020-2021, the school testing policy was open-note, since some students were on Flex Learning and others attended school in-person. This meant that many teachers again decided to do projects for their midterms and finals, which some students preferred. Register said, “I do understand that students need to be tested to make sure that they can further progress in a class. For example, in my Intro to Med class, it is crucial that we understand the material so that we can apply it to real life, whether that be while shadowing in a hospital or knowing how to take someone’s blood pressure. Personally, though, I feel like I take away more from doing projects, specifically individual ones because instead of studying all of the material with a short-term understanding of it just to rewrite onto a test, I am instead taking the time to gather all the information with the intention of making sure I understand it for a presentation, paper, etc. Also, there is a creativity aspect incorporated into most projects that you don’t get when taking tests.”
For this current school year of 2021-2022, some teachers elected to do projects such as Mr. Heller’s American Government Class where students wrote bills on various topics such as mental health, gun rights, abortion rights, environmental issues, etc. However, many AP classes were required to take mock AP tests this year. Math classes, for the most part, stuck with normal final testing.
Overall, the experience of COVID impacted the midterm and final formats by introducing potential room for more projects in the future. According to some students, including Register, projects were more beneficial for long-term memory retention.