The Sad Truth: Why Loudoun County needs midterm exams

By Sharon Shatananda

It would be easy for you, the reader, to mock me, for not being anti-midterm exams at all costs. But please, hear me out.

For those unaware of the situation, the School Board was considering a new midterm policy for this year. Their question was, how useful, and necessary, are midterms really? As of December 2nd, the School Board decided to continue the mid-term schedule for this school year, where midterm tests will count for 20% of each student’s grade for first semester.

On a strictly student level, I am strongly anti-midterm, for the same reason as everyone else: it’s another test. Another bullet-point on the homework to-do list, and one more thing to study for and worry about. But that doesn’t mean I can’t sympathize with those who do believe in midterms (And maybe even agree with them…fundamentally).

If it were up to me, and my tired teenage brain, I would never take another test in my life. But even I can understand that it would ridiculous and unbeneficial to both learning the material, and being college-ready to never take a test again. In order to absorb information, to fully benefit from the school system, we have to endure tests and assessments. They may not always seem logical, but for the most part, they help us out in the long run.

For some, tests are a nightmare, and are sure to bring down a grade. But for others, testing is an opportunity to study and bring a low grade up few percentage points, or maintain a good grade. Midterms, mentally demanding as they are, are rarely detrimental to a grade. Usually, they either bring a grade down by a few points, or raise it up by a few. Remember, this is only 20% of each semester grade; In college, students aren’t so lucky: midterms and finals often count for over 50% of a final grade.

If the School Board decided to take away midterms, current freshmen and sophomores would never had to face midterm examination until they entered college. It is invaluable to have the experience of dealing with high-pressure, cumulative tests like midterms before graduation. In college, the environment, the stress level, and even the consequences during midterm examinations are different. An APUSH student, for example, might endure sometimes soul-sucking quizzes and tests, but is assured that one bad grade will not mean failure in the class, or thousands of dollars in tuition. That isn’t true of college. It may be a pain now, but when college hits, I would personally like to be prepared, instead of shell-shocked.

When entering college, and eventually the workforce, students from Loudoun County will be competing against students from around the country for college acceptance and job positions, most of whom will be, if midterms are taken away, much better prepared for these opportunities. It would have been a shame to see the school system do our students a disservice by leading us into the world without any testing experience.