New midterm schedule adds to senior stress


School-related stress is not a new experience for Howell High School students. Tests, homework from seven different classes, sports, and student organizations demand students’ attention each day. These activities expect several hours of involvement without considering the amount of time other responsibilities require. Although it is common for students of all ages to experience stress, high school seniors may have the largest obstacles to overcome.

The most obvious stressor that seniors must deal with is their plan for their future after graduation. For students who plan to go to college, the many steps of the application process, in addition to regular classwork, can be difficult to manage. Students feel the pressure of maintaining grades that their college wants to see. The homework and applications can keep students up late at night working, which reduces their time for sleep and increases anxiety relating to school.

Once a senior decides on a college, applications for scholarships and financial aid emerge. Although preparing for college can be exciting, the process of figuring out how to cut massive expenses for their further education is stressful. For some seniors, scholarship offers help them decide where they will spend the next few years of their lives. The importance of these decisions understandably contributes to the worries of several students.

The end of the semester is one of the most stressful and demanding times of year for students. Midterm exams evaluate students on all of the information they have learned throughout the semester in a short period of time. Howell’s schedule, which places exams after winter break, only exacerbates the anxiety that many students feel during tests. In several other school districts, exams are taken before winter break. This is advantageous because it relieves students from having to study or worry about finals during the holidays. The two weeks Howell has off hardly seems like a break from school when thoughts about impending exams are looming in the back of one’s mind.

This year, Howell High changed its schedule for midterms. Instead of having the 7th hour exam on the first day of testing, and two exams for the three following days, students will now be taking the 7th hour exam on Wednesday, January 20, and on the following Thursday and Friday will be taking three exams each day. The schedule was modified to take out the study periods that were given to students before each exam last year, allowing students to finish midterms in a shorter period of time. Change can be a good thing, but in this case it does not seem to be comforting many students. In fact, for some displeased seniors, who often have more challenging schedules than underclassmen, the adjustment in the midterm schedule is primarily a source of anxiety.

The midterm schedule just stresses me out. It’s unreasonable to expect people to handle three tests in one day,” senior Bailey Uhl says.

After winter break, students only have two weeks or less to review all the material after a break from school. This causes unnecessary stress and doesn’t allow students to perform as well as they would like to. It speaks volumes about the stress students face when they are hoping for snow days to have more time to study. The new midterm plan seems to value efficiency over the giving students time to review the material on their exams.

“The testing schedule portrays to the students that the school doesn’t really care about their success, well being, or how much they actually learn,” senior Jenna Berry says.

Last year, many students felt that the exam review periods were too lengthy. Even so, packing in three exams into one day and having only one 7th hour exam on the first day of testing seems unnecessary. The three classes can pose more difficulties for upperclassmen, who typically have more rigorous classes to study for.

“I agree, two tests at three hours each is a bit much, but some kids have AP classes all day,” senior Ira Smith says. “How are they supposed to get 100 questions done in that time?”

A possible solution would be having two days with two exams, and only one day of three. This would allow students more flexibility to study for their hardest exams instead of cramming for three exams a day twice. Some students may favor a switch back to last year’s system. Either way, several students appear to be discontent with the new schedule. Seniors already have college and graduation to worry about, and the midterm schedule only demands more from these students. The consequences of the change will be seen very soon, but if it causes as much anxiety as expected, the schedule will hopefully be changed back for final exams.