Midterms Reimagined


Sophie Levine, Staff Writer

Every year, at the end of January, the dooming task of MIDTERMS looms over all of our heads. Usually, HMHS students spend weeks preparing for these tests, as they consist of all of the material from the first semester. Nights are spent creating flashcards, frantically memorizing historical events and math formulas, and preparing for essay questions. Teachers will often make time for a review period before the exams, and students are able to ask questions to clarify their understanding of the various topics. Typically, during midterms week, students do not have regular classes; their school days consist solely of the (approximately) two-hour tests. Then, after their exams, they are free to leave the school. However, with the COVID pandemic still in effect, the administration is trying to abide by the state’s safety regulations. All HMHS students would have to go into school to take the exams, but having four years worth of students in classes of over 200 students each makes it difficult to follow social distancing guidelines. Therefore, many teachers have chosen to shake things up a bit. Instead of the conventional test, a large majority of classes are being assigned creative projects or an nontraditional assignment. Many of these assignments are spread out over one or two weeks. For example, in Ms. Lechner’s Algebra II class, the students get to play the role of the teacher. They are being asked to create math questions of their own that the other students in the class will solve and then be graded on. This allows students to think more critically and creatively about math, in unconventional ways one might not have considered previously.

What do the students think?

The question that interested me was, what are the students’ opinions? I know some people prefer a traditional way of thinking, where they can memorize facts and then be able to apply them in a timed setting. Others like a more relaxed, creative way of thinking; these students thrive off of unique projects that can bring their talents to light. Let’s see what the HMHS students thought about midterms this year…

Joseph Keegan, a sophomore remarked, “I really enjoy the projects, but I feel like the tests were more organized and less time consuming…the projects are not as hard, but more time consuming, definitely…both have their pros and cons.”

When asked what she thought about these unique exams, Natasha Moskovitz, a junior, responded that she prefers the projects over the tests, and that the few tests she does have are not “nearly as intense as they usually are.” She is glad that the midterms do not carry as much weight this year (they are 5% of the course grade instead of 10%). However, she does find it overwhelming that “the teachers are continuing to give us work along with the midterms.”

Senior Bella Lee stated, “I enjoy projects over tests…the projects allow me time and I feel more motivated…the usual midterm exams we have had in previous years are difficult. It’s hard to pay attention to one thing for that long, have a 30 minute break, and then do it again. The projects let us get creative! Especially as a senior this year, I feel it gives us a break from what we had in previous years.”

This past year has been rough on both the students and the teachers, and many changes have had to be made to the curriculum, which can be overwhelming for some students who enjoy traditional, routine learning. Nevertheless, it is heartening to see the teachers creating unconventional midterms and giving students the chance to share their creative side in a lower-pressure situation. Amidst a bit of chaos, we can still find ways to learn and grow.