Winter Vacation is No Break from Exam Woes
by Trevor Hopkins on Friday, February 7th, 2014
Milton is different than most other ISL schools in that its midyear exams are positioned after winter vacation instead of the week before. In the past, Milton has held exams just before winter break, and even before Thanksgiving, before changing to the system we have now. Among Milton students, there are those who believe exams should be held before vacations like most schools and those who prefer the current timing of the midyear exams. Personally, I think that having exams before students go on vacation is the more sensible option.
Those who prefer having exams after winter break usually argue that having a vacation before exams gives students a few free weeks to organize everything they have accumulated over the fall semester in order to prepare for exams. Various assignments, projects, and tests can be gathered together to allow for a more streamlined study process during this extra time, giving some students the opportunity to begin their studying over break. I agree that using winter vacation in this way is a great asset. The only problem is that the overwhelming majority of students at Milton, myself included, don’t want to ruin their peaceful winter vacation worrying about exams and don’t even want to think about them until they return to school. In reality, having a vacation before exams only benefits a small portion of the student body.
The only other downside to having exams before vacation is that there may not be enough time to have an entire week of review before the exams. However, this is not much of a drawback, as juniors and seniors do not even have a real review week the week before exams. The only ones who would be affected are underclassmen, who have a mandatory review week in all their classes.
Most students that I have talked to would rather hold their exams before vacation. In this manner, students don’t feel they have to make their break less enjoyable by constantly remembering that exams soon start after vacation ends. Therefore, finishing exams early would only serve to make winter vacation more relaxing. Another advantage of having the midyear exams right before break is that all of the information students learned in the first semester is still fresh in their minds. Having a three week break between the fall semester and the exams only allows that information to fade.
Not even the Milton faculty benefit from the extra time in January, as most classes have already covered the material that will be tested on the exams by vacation. Having exams positioned before break would also give teachers the entire vacation to grade their classes work. My own advisor, Mr. Lou, has expressed to me how little time he has to grade the lengthy history exams that he gives.
Holding midyear exams before winter vacation is a much better solution than pushing them after vacation. Although students wouldn’t be able to get a head start on studying over winter break, the majority of Milton students don’t utilize this time anyways, so it is somewhat of a moot point. Since students do not take advantage of this time, having three weeks of no school causes information learned in the first semester to be forgotten. Getting exams over with and not having to worry about them during break is definitely worth the curtailed study period. This earlier positioning of exam week would better serve the entire Milton community.
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