Milton Exams Make Students Testy
by Stacy Sukharevsky on Friday, February 12th, 2016
For most high school students around the country, stress emanates from boundless sources: relationships, friendships, grades, and even college pressure. However, exam week, which takes place at the end of January, is arguably one of the most anxiety-inducing portions of the school year. During this week, students are tasked with regurgitating a semester’s worth of information in a series of two-hour exams.
Although Milton Academy does not administer final exams, Milton students certainly have their hands full with January midterms. Furthermore, in my own experiences at Milton, I have never once heard anyone say, “My exam grade improved my semester grade!” Overall, the words “exam week” rarely, if ever, elicit a positive reaction. However, the true question still stands: are exams really that horrible, and would we actually be better off without them?
Despite the stress that the exam week creates in most every high-schooler’s life, I believe that exams are a necessary and even somewhat useful part of the curriculum. While the majority of us used winter break to dispose of all the knowledge that we acquired before the vacation, exam week gave us reason enough to recollect the lost information and use it. I would argue, therefore, that having exam week in January, instead of December, more effectively allows students to lock in what they learned in the first semester.
Exam week also gives us a perfect chance to take a break from normal academic days and recuperate before starting the second semester. Because Milton’s exam schedule is formatted so that students take a maximum of two exams per day, students can catch up on sleep and calmly prepare for exams. Plus, the two days after exams, which are normally days off, are a perfect transition between the first and second semesters. Those two extra days give students time to take a break and hang out with friends without homework looming over their heads. Thus, I would argue that it is the idea of a week of exams, rather than the experience itself, that upsets most high schoolers.
Another often debated aspect of exam week concerns review week. Review week, the four days preceding exams, is a crucial part of achieving exam success. Teachers reveal the content of their exams and give students the chance to review units from the last semester. Some students argue that a week’s review is insufficient and that teachers cannot sufficiently prepare their classes. However, in my experience, Milton teachers have been able to offer both helpful review resources and plenty of insight regarding the content of the exam—all within review week’s four day time-span.
Even though at first glance, a week of exams may seem like the worst and most stressful part of the school year, students often overlook the many positive aspects that accompany this period. With no official homework during review week and ample time to refresh old material, practicing past concepts is not so bad. Despite receiving much criticism, exam week remains a necessary factor in Milton’s academic curriculum, helping students to recall material and solidify their knowledge.
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