Midterms return to pre-pandemic format


Image courtesy of Canva.

Carina McCallum, Opinion Editor

This previously ran in our December 2022 print issue. 

As the end of the first semester approaches, many students are left with questions about the looming midterm season, and are wondering what to expect this year. 

Midterms for the 2022-23 school year will be held from Jan. 18-20, with make-up days from Jan. 23-24, operating under an open-campus system. 

The dates are subject to change if a snow day must be taken. 

In the past few years, the midterm exams have been subject to frequent changes. Just last year, midterm and final exams had different formats – midterms were closed-campus, while finals were open-campus, as well as some scheduling differences. Such discrepancies have caused much confusion as to what plan will be used this year. 

The overall worth of midterms and finals has fluctuated over the past years as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns. Administrators have announced that this year midterms and finals will, once again, be a separate category of a student’s overall grades. They will have a higher weight, feeding into students’ overall course grade and ultimately, their GPA. Combined, midterms and finals act as a fifth marking period for students’ grades. 

This year, midterm exams will be worth 10% of students’ overall grades. Finals will be worth another 10%, and all marking periods will be worth 20%. Overall, this is a jump from last year, where midterms and finals were 10% of students’ second and fourth marking period grades, respectively. 

An open campus midterm schedule entails multiple things. 

As the name would suggest, the school doors remain open, and students will be free to leave after completing exams for the day and are able to come in late if they have an exam later in the day. Emmaus used an open-campus system before the pandemic hit. 

During the three days of testing, students’ days will consist of three blocks. On the first day, Jan. 18, students will have their midterm for block 1A, followed by their 2A class. Next, all students will have a lunch period. At the conclusion of the lunch period, students will report to their 3A class midterm, which will conclude testing for the day. 

On Jan. 19, students will begin the day with their 4A exam, which will be followed by their 1B exam. From there on, the midterms continue following the pattern illustrated. On the last day of testing, the final block will be used as an opportunity for make-ups. 

The open campus schedule is set to start at the same time as a normal school day, but will end early at 1 p.m. Even though students are able to leave campus at any time aside from during an exam, there is no transportation or busing provided by the school between exams, as it is only provided at the start and end times. 

Students do not report to classes where they have no exams; if they cannot access transportation home before the end of the day, areas like the cafeteria or gym are open to students. 

For typical midterms, students will report to their classrooms. For make-ups, students must go to the MMR. 

The physical format of the tests is also up to teachers, students may take their exams on a physical paper or online. It is not uncommon for an exam to be both of these, with multiple-choice online and an essay question on paper. As such, it is important for students to come fully prepared, with a charged chromebook, plenty of pencils, and any other school supplies that they might need – teachers are unlikely to allow students to make up the test if they come unprepared, like with an uncharged chromebook and no charger. 

Students at EHS are unsure how to feel about the upcoming midterm season. 

Freshman Olive Whitney is apprehensive about the upcoming tests. 

“I’m a little nervous for the midterms because I’ve never taken a test of this magnitude before,” she said. “But I do believe my teachers have done an adequate job preparing me.” 

She notes her disapproval for the change in grading for the test. 

“I disagree with the increase in value. I think that the assignments and smaller tests that we do throughout the year should be of higher worth than the midterms,” she said. 

Senior Sean Laird, who has experienced many different formats, is less nervous going into this year’s midterms. 

“You get used to taking big tests,” Laird said. “I feel like the entire year, midterms are just what you’re taught in class, there’s really nothing special about it. Especially in physics this year, the questions are just coming off of old tests. So there’s not a big difference between what you learned and what’s gonna be on the midterm.” 

Laird appreciates the current, open-campus format. 

“No [I don’t prefer last year’s midterms], because I didn’t study at all for them to be completely honest. It just didn’t matter last year, but it still hurt your grade,” Laird said. “Specifically, an open campus is great for everybody. It’s easier for teachers and students. You have a sense of responsibility to actually study for them.” 

The past few years have brought many changes to how Emmaus approaches the midterm season, from open-campus and closed, and contribution to your grade, the exams have varied greatly. 

The upcoming exams represent not just another big test for students to take, but also a return to normalcy in the school curriculum and system coming back from the challenging past few years.