Does Testing Assess Study Habits or Knowledge?
Deedee Anderson '15
Has midterm studying become more about strategy than actual smarts? Deep down I know that whether I study two hours or fifteen hours for that Yap essay, I'm still not going to feel prepared for the real question. And even if I know how to conjugate 150 Spanish verbs in every tense, Profe will happen to put the five verbs that I don't know on the test. So how am I supposed to ace all six of my midterms and continue my semester unscathed? The answer is: by studying the art of studying. Allison Sheu '15 sums it up with the advice she learned from Dr. Quattrin: "pick up the easy points first, then worry about the hard points. With limited time and brain space, it's more important to realize which parts are more necessary than others."
So why do we even have mid- terms, if they're not really testing what we know, but just what we had time to study for? Some teachers, like Mr. Shaughnessy, don't give midterms. He says the Religious Studies department "doesn't want to add to that intense anxiety. As a level we decided to come up with alternative assessments." So if omitting a midterm is about reducing stress, why don't all of our teachers do that?
Ms. Miller has her well-founded reasons for giving a midterm, "It builds character and it gets the students to crack open their books." She adds jokingly, "I also do it to make them suffer."
Other teachers, like Ms. Purcell, prefer to stagger their midterms, giving them after the break so their students actually have time to study and focus on just one class. "I don't put much stock in testing but testing is the game the whole world plays," Ms. Purcell explains, "and if my students have to play that game, I want them to play to win."
Students are also divided on this topic. Some like having midterms as a way to track their progress, but many others consider midterms an unnecessary source of stress and a faulty way to test knowledge. "It's a love-hate relationship," says Nick Arnold '15, "because sometimes the teacher gives you an easy midterm that can help your grade, or they give you a really hard midterm that can bring you down."
Another issue with midterms is the fact that teachers are so inconsistent in giving them. Junior year, one may end up with six midterms to study for in two nights, while during freshman year one might only have one or two midterms. If this midterm system is going to continue at SI, it needs to have a set, three-day schedule like finals, to standardize the test-taking process and give students more time to plan out their study strategies. Conversely, if midterms stop altogether, I don't think the student body would mourn the loss.
Students recall the vocabulary they crammed 2 minutes before class.
Choose groups to clone to: