Midterms leave students mid squirm

Ah, midterms: the bane of every college student’s existence. The college life is all fun and games until midterm season comes around. We all know what midterm season means: all-nighters in Miller, many, many visits to professors during office hours, the unnatural amounts of caffeine and Red Bull, trademarks of the infamously hardest time of the semester. We hate it, but professors shovel them out with a smile on their faces. They wholeheartedly believe that midterms are a crucial part of the learning process. In reality, the question is: are midterms actually imperative to our education or do they just create unnecessary additional stress?

Midterms have been routinely accepted worldwide in most colleges and universities. Professors believe that midterms are a good way of assessing a student’s understanding and absorption of the material taught over a certain period of time. Moreover, professors use midterms as a strategy to tell if a student has been actively engaged and attentive in their class. As the semester advances, midterms provide the professor with a gauge of a student’s progress in the class as grades from midterms and other assignments accumulate. Another reason professors incorporate midterms into their curriculum is to evaluate the quality of a student’s study skills and habits. Unfortunately for us students, since midterms have been a worldwide collegiate tradition, professors assert that there is irrefutable importance  to midterms. Although midterms do help professors evaluate a student’s progress,  midterms still always come with an unimaginable amount of stress and pressure. The negative impact midterms have could be avoided by finding new, less-stressful and more efficient ways of assessing students.

The definition of learning is the acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, study, or by being taught. Learning does not have to be severely taxing or overly demanding to be efficient. People should not dread learning. While the purpose of midterms may be to routinely check mastery of material, the reality of the outcome is that it merely tests students on their ability to memorize an absurd amount of information under a short period of time. Moreover, other classes in a student’s schedule do not stop or slow down during midterm season, therefore the workload rapidly spills over the brim of a student’s capacity to keep up. There are other ways to reap the benefits of midterms with much more productive and effective means of assessment. Perhaps more frequent quizzes or projects would be a better substitution for midterms. Assignments that better test understanding of material rather than one’s ability to memorize over 200 terms and concepts is undoubtedly a better solution.

It can reasonably be inferred that the worth of midterms will forever and always be the most controversial debate between professors and students. Professors will always vote yes for midterms because they are simply always on the other side of the desk, topped with a stapled stack of frustrating questions with forehead resting in one hand and a shaking number two pencil in the other. The purpose of learning should be about the clear understanding of material and how it could possibly relate to the outside world. Colleges and universities need to stray from their customary method of assessment and find more effective, innovative and healthier ways of testing students on their comprehension skills rather than their memorization skills.

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