Midyear exams are coming up soon and it seems like my students are either very stressed about them, or they don’t care.

When students vent their worries and frustrations, it’s hard to come up with positive things to say about midyears. These exams are new to my grade 8s, so they are the ones who have been frequently questioning why we have formal midyear exams, especially when they already have tests/quizzes/projects in their various courses.

So far, this is what I’ve been telling them:

-it’s practice with seeing what major exams look like in different subjects

-it’ll be a new experience to write an exam in a packed gym that’s silent the entire time (ie, no listening to music while working)

-this is another ‘deadline’ to work into your schedules, so it’s related to time management for studying

-it’ll be practice with monitoring time during an exam in order to finish on time

-it’ll be practice with test-taking strategies that you might use later for the provincial exams

It wasn’t easy coming up with positives to sell the idea of midyear exams… especially when students asked what the difference is in writing an exam during midyear week vs. working on assessments during class time throughout the term. Some students were particularly against the idea of using Scantron forms because there is no room for part-marks in showing part of the work. But other students countered the complaint by saying multiple choice questions are good for when you didn’t study the material because you can narrow down your choices. When in doubt, pick “C”.

I tried to reassure the students by telling them that the midyears aren’t an exercise in sorting students…that hopefully (following assessment for learning ideas) everyone should have an idea of what skills and topics they will demonstrate on the test, and that this is another method of showing what you have learned so far.

Still…it’s hard to sell something that causes so much stress and anxiety (and I have to admit, part of me wonders whether I will learn anything new from the exam results that I wouldn’t have learned from an in-class activity.)