Hate to be Wrong? Well if You’re Against Midterms, You Just Might be Right.

By: Madeline Swank

No one wants midterms, mostly because it’s just another test to study and stress over, and the over-worked junior inside me agrees, along with several other students who gave me replications of that approximate answer, like sophomore Maddie Dobscha. “If we do well [on our midterms], it doesn’t help us a lot, but if we don’t do well, then it drastically drops our grades at the very end of the semester,” Dobscha said.

I’m sure after hearing most of our teachers rant about how important midterms are to our future we began to secretly believe it. Not the I’m-going-to-announce-it-to-the-world type of believing, (because let’s be honest no one likes to be wrong) but a humble acceptance. Well never fear, because if you are in the 99% of the student population (and maybe a few teachers) who despises midterms, you have every right to, and here’s why.

A test can gage the students’ ability to remember, but does it really test their understanding? You can memorize vocabulary terms or stay up until 1 o’clock in the morning writing thousands of notecards, but none of that has a lifetime guarantee of understanding the information. Not everyone learns the same way or tests the same way. So why is only one style of learning tested in midterms? If one test doesn’t appeal to all the types of learning, giving the same test to all students cannot possibly be a precise way of testing everyone’s overall knowledge.

“Due to some teaching methods presented by teachers, some students aren’t able to retain enough information in every class needed to do well on the midterms,” says Junior Hailey Disch.

Just like how the length of a curved line is measured using pi, variables, numbers and/or various units, our understanding of material is also obtained in different ways. People can learn better by hearing, seeing, writing, interacting, or reading depending on one’s personality. Just as it would make no sense to measure a curved line with a ruler, it would make no sense to test all students who learn differently with the same generic test.

Teachers frequently express how important it is that we learn good study habits for college, which is no doubt a perfectly reasonable thing to be pinpointing, but college grades don’t only consist of a few major exams. Most college courses fill the gradebook with several quizzes, periodical research papers or group projects, and two to three exams. Depending on the course, students may also be graded on case studies or labs.  In college, acing a test is not just dependent on superb study habits, but is dependent on how you retrieve the information presented in class. College professors give lectures and host class discussions instead of handing the students the information like most teachers do in high school, so it takes more than the ability to study to succeed.

As much as written tests and essays are important to us now, what’s more important is communication, and tests that interact with all learning styles. The presentation of thoughts and defending a position are skills that are used more frequently in a career than sitting at a desk and taking a test. When your boss wants to know how much you have learned in the past few months of training, is he/she going to have you sit down and take a test, or are they going to present you with a task? Active learning as well as application of learning better displays your understanding of the task because your performance is determined by the information you know.

So what is the true reason for bad performances on midterms, you ask? Is it simply because students’ aren’t studying, or because no matter how much they study, one generic test cannot accurately determine how much they really know? Midterms are the easy way for teachers to monitor progress, but not necessarily the best way.