Exam rooms full of students, being told to start reviewing weeks before, studying for long hours into the night, and, of course, undergoing stress. This is all part of the midterm experience that high school students in T2, T3, and T4 have been required to go through for years.
However, this year, the T1s had to endure midterms just like all the other high schoolers. But is it really worth all of the preparation for both the students and the teachers? Why did the administration decide to introduce midterms for the T1s this year? And what do the students think about this new change in the curriculum?
Our high school principal, Mr. Delaitre, answered some of these questions during an interview about this topic. He said that whether or not T1s and T2s should have exams has been a discussion between teachers and team leaders for two to three years now. This not only regards T1 midterms, but also midterms for T2s and June exams for T1s and T2s.
Mr. Delaitre stated that he was quite against midterms and finals in the first two years of high school. According to the Tut House principal, “There was actually a very strong push from the teachers and the team leaders to not get rid of the T1, T2 exams, but to add them for December T1.”
Mr. Delaitre also pointed out some of the pros and cons of having midterms for T1s that were considered when making the decision. There are a few reasons that undermine the usefulness of the exams. As Mr. Delaitre said, “Having exams, essentially, is blocking instructional time for basically two weeks, twice.”
The June and December exams each separately take up two weeks, in which time a lot of learning could take place. On top of that, exams can create a lot of stress and anxiety for students that could be avoided by not testing them.
On the other hand, there are also quite a few benefits of having midterms for T1s. For starters, they can be good practice and allow students to develop study- and test-taking skills for exams that students have to take eventually in the IB program – and even for the June exams at the end of the year.
Secondly, as Mr. Delaitre said, “It’s also a way for teachers to be able to diagnose how the students’ learning has progressed, to reflect on that and address whatever areas that need to be revised”.
It is also very hard for some teachers to find a way to teach T1s while the rest of the high school has midterms. Thus, having T1 midterms is logistically a lot less complicated. This was not the main reason for the final decision, but it was a consideration.
When asking high schoolers from all grades whether or not T1s should have midterms, there was a general consensus that midterms for T1s are helpful. One T1 said, “We should have them because that way we don’t have to leave all of our studying and preparing for finals. We already have our notes and everything organized, so it’s building up from the midterms rather than starting from scratch.”
Many students agreed with this, however there were some people who disagreed. Of the 15 students interviewed, there were two who did not think midterms for T1s were necessary. As a T4 said, “T1s shouldn’t have midterms. I didn’t have them and I was fine, so I don’t see the need to have them.”
Midterms are something that no student likes to have — however, the tests will ultimately provide preparation for the students’ final exams. Studying is obviously not something to look forward to, and the stress isn’t either. Nevertheless, as many students agree, it is something that will help you in the long term and may be worth it in the end.