There is no escaping exams in college and complaining about their existence is futile. Midterms are no exception. As we breath a collective sigh of relief as the bulk of exams come to an end, the staff of Foghorn is curious whether there is a more effective way to give examinations mid-semester. More specifically, should there be a week set aside for midterms like is already established for finals?
In their current form, midterms have absolutely no format as far the registrar is concerned. Unlike final exams, midterms refer to a loose period of time spanning the middle portion of the semester. Some courses give in-class exams. Others classes require papers, group projects, presentations or other forms of coursework. In this respect, there is not much difference between midterms and finals.
However, there is one major contrast. Final exams are scheduled through the university’s registrar’s office. Exam dates, times and locations are determined for each class. While there may be some classes which only require a final paper or project, these exam periods are still available to professors to conduct presentations, critiques or performances.
Reforming midterms so that they followed an exam schedule during a specific week would have some immediate advantages. Reducing confusion and overlapping course work, a specific midterm exam week would isolate these tests to a single week. This would cut down on the stress of the seemingly endless studying during these vague weeks of midterms.
This reform wouldn’t just yield a benefit to students, but professors and faculty as well. While this process would demand extensive planning from the registrar’s office, a midterm exam week would give professors extra flexibility. Traditionally, professors must give midterms during class time, taking away time that could be spent on class review sessions or workshop. Having a separate exam period would allow the class to use their time purely for review. This would be a bonus for professors and their students.
Yet, even some on the Foghorn staff are not convinced this would be an ideal solution to cutting down on student workload and stress. They argue that the very reason students dread finals week is due to the very fact that it is only a week long, a concentrated version of midterms. This short time period of high-stakes exams increases the general atmosphere of stress within the student body. At the same time, the lack of structure during midterms actually gives professors more freedom teaching their course. Some professors decide not to give midterms, since there is no allotted time for them (something most students wouldn’t have a problem with).
Of course, there is always the added problem of implementation. While it may seem like a weak argument, tradition is a strong factor in how the University conducts itself. Midterms are not structured and have simply been that way since most students can remember. A sudden change would cause panic and friction between the administration and student body.
Whether or not such a change could be carried out, the Foghorn would still like this idea considered and put to a public forum for discussion. While it may upset the status quo, it should yield greater results during midterm examinations in the long-run.