Operation Midterms: Chill

Lexi Harder, Staff Writer

It’s that time of year again. The holidays have passed, the first semester draws to a close, and students across the nation, and unfailingly at Harriton, become anxious. First, because the last grades of the quarter are to be submitted; second, because midterms loom ever closer.
It is true that they come at an inconvenient time of the year—who has time to study for midterms during the middle of second quarter? Combined with the fact that there is no national or religious holiday left to celebrate that involves sweets or gift giving, sitting down to study seems even more depressing, not to mention that many have forgotten what was covered in September.

The dreaded midterms are not something to get worked up about. Consider this fact: midterms are only worth nine percent of the final grade. Even if a person were to receive a zero as her test grade, she would still be able to finish the year with a B+ (provided that they performed perfectly in every other quarter).

And it is very difficult to score a zero on any given test. If anything, if it becomes a choice between redeeming second quarter grades and studying for midterms, study for that last test of the quarter before all else. The quarter is worth more than the midterm, and can end up affecting a final grade more heavily.

Weighing aside, midterms only test four months of learned knowledge. It is understood that this material can add up, and the details from the beginning are fuzzy at best, if they are indeed even remembered.

The good news is that midterms do not test details—they test broad concepts, the main ideas from chapters, and overall knowledge of a subject. The details that do need to be memorized will be few, and they will probably be so important that they are already second nature by now. In many classes, such as foreign languages, the concepts learned in the beginning of the year are still being used, so little studying has to be done in the weeks approaching the midterm. By going to class, the student is in effect studying.

It is tempting to take one of two roads when it comes to the midterms, the first being the way of overkill studying, and the second consisting of either cramming the night before or not studying at all (under the misguided notion that the end result will be less painful to confront with the security of definite failure). To make the entire test-taking experience more enjoyable, the student is advised to do his homework, review mainly the things he does not remember or is not comfortable with (a few weeks in advance, if possible), and relax. Studying too much leads to burnout, which leads to apathy during the actual test. Study what is a complete mystery. Review what is old hat.

When all is said and done, midterms aren’t something to worry about. As long as the student brings a No. 2 pencil on the testing day, the rest will follow. And hey, it’s a great opportunity to wear pajamas to school.