Midterms — they’re back!

Semester exams. The nightmare of most high school students, right above a pop quiz. Teachers try to tell students that it’s a time to shine and nothing to be afraid of. But for many students exams involve sleep deprivation and crying on the bathroom floor.

The last time the school held semester exams, in the 2019-2020 school year, this group of students gathered for a study session in the library. (The Pioneer )

Why do we even have semester exams? Well, Walsh Jesuit is a college preparatory school. One of the elements of being in college is taking exams, and the school wants to prepare students for that future experience. The school also values being able to observe their students’ growth. But many are stressed and feel underprepared.

An anonymous senior said, “[Midterms] are highly stressful, and the purpose isn’t always clear. Some classes do not require midterms, but we have them anyway, which adds to the stress. I feel like this year being under-prepared by teachers is at an all-time high.”

Walsh Jesuit last held semester exams in the 2019-2020 school year, when midterms were held in January.

Several seniors remembered the terror that was midterms their freshman year. Grades ranged from A and B+ to D+ and F.

On the other hand, junior Lily Fratantonio recalled, “I took midterms my freshman year, and the experience honestly wasn’t too bad. I remember being stressed, but in the end, I studied and ultimately performed great on all of them.”

Currently, two grades, freshmen and sophomores, have never taken any form of a semester exam.

Currently, two grades, freshmen and sophomores, have never taken any form of a semester exam. Juniors have only taken one (a midterm during their freshman year) and seniors have taken three. Understandably, the overall lack of experience is causing anxiety for many students.

Sophomore Sydney Borges started studying and making quizlets for her hardest classes before Thanksgiving break. Sydney stated, “I’m super nervous. Definitely the most for Honors Chem and AP Euro.”

The testing schedule is completely and utterly new this year. Now, on Tuesday, December 14, students will take midterms for classes held during periods one, two, and three. On Wednesday they will sit for periods four, five, and six. Finally, on Thursday, December 16, students will test for periods seven, eight, and nine. Each exam session will be 75 minutes in length, and the school day will conclude at 12:15 pm. After all midterms have been taken, a much-needed Christmas break starts (finally!).

Mrs. Megan Regan, vice principle for academics, said that this change happened for several reasons. Many teachers stated that they wanted to be with their students during semester exams (possibly to watch them suffer?). In all seriousness, teachers do care about their students, and this switch allows for teachers to support their students throughout the entire process.

Students grab a snack and study in the Commons.

Sophomore Erik Kochilla, like many students, appreciates the new testing schedule. “I believe it’s a lot better to give us a whole school day for three tests,” he stated.

However, due to the layout of the testing schedule, students who take tests later in the week could be at an advantage compared to the students who take the same test earlier.  Teachers will, no doubt, take steps to decrease the effects of possible cheating, but students have mixed reactions.

Lily is concerned about the possibility for academic dishonesty. “During midterms my freshman year, there was some sort of tapping system that specific students were using,” she remembered.

However, Erik believes that the length and intensive amount of material on the tests will make a lapse of anyone’s moral continence harder. “I’m sure students will make cheat sheets or answer keys for each other. [But] the length of the test is too long to have a concealable answer key,” he said.

As stressful as midterms may be, they will not be impossible. In an email to parents and students, Mrs. Regan recommends that students talk to their teachers about what information will be on their exams. Once armed with this knowledge, students should prioritize time for their harder classes and make a study schedule.

Senior Danny Konecny said, “I plan on doing whatever review my teachers give me.” In addition, he plans on studying until he feels confident with the material and forming a study group for AP Chemistry.

But most importantly, remember that semester exams are only glorified tests and getting a less than hoped for grade will not destroy anyone’s life (at least in theory).