By: Sam Bloomberg
This year, the tri-school unveiled a new format for the Upper School midterm exam schedule. In the past, students took exams for all five or six of their classes two weeks after Winter Break, causing some students to complain that they could not use their break as they wanted because they were studying for exams. This year, however, before winter break, the students took a math and science exam. After the break was over, teachers in the humanities courses gave projects or other cumulative assessments with the expectation that the math and science courses would not give additional work.
Simeon Parker (’19) comments, “[The new exam schedule] allows us to use the break as it was intended to be used… as a break.” Noah Jun (’19) also thinks that the new schedule went well, but he points out several flaws, adding, “Before break it was hard learning new material and studying and after it flipped, I feel like you still have to learn new stuff while completing projects and tests.” Noah puts forth a solution, explaining, “I would change the exam schedule back to the original one, but have it before break so that way you don’t have it hanging over your head [during break] like last year.” Mac Webster (’18) feels that there should have been more communication and better planning leading up to the exams, saying, “Classes that didn't have exams have seemed to pile on work for the last week or even the last day which is extremely frustrating.” Mac continues, “The week leading up to the math and science exams was not light by any means. In other classes I still had assignments to do leading up to that weekend.” Brandon Ahearn (’19) also feels that the work after break was a little much, mentioning, “[After break] felt rushed. There were multiple projects going on while classes stayed pretty much at their normal pace… The classes without exams made projects much harder to manage since there is so much to do in around two weeks.” While this schedule was rushed, Brandon still liked it, adding, “I personally enjoy the new exam schedule more, simply because I am better at projects than just taking exams.” He also commended it on doing what it was supposed to: reassuring that he did not have homework to do over break. Additionally, Ahearn offers some advice, saying, “If there was anything I would change it would be other classes cutting down on their workload to give more time to the large projects we have. I know of some people that only started some of their papers the day before because they were so swamped with work.” This view was shared by other students who felt rushed by the workload coming back from break.
Upper School Head Mr. Rob Heubeck expressed his opinions, saying, “I think the Administration thought it went really well, and the teachers, one of the things that they are concerned about is that the week prior to exams felt pretty rushed, and that they didn’t get enough material covered that they thought they would. On the other hand, I think that the teachers that didn’t give an exam, and have done projects really liked that process of having two weeks after exams to have some project work done, and not rushing to get done for the exam.” He further explains what happens from here, “We have a committee of teachers from all three school, and they are going to collect data and look at some of the ways we will be able to adapt a little better.” Nevertheless, because of the strong reaction from the student body and teachers in favor of the new schedule, Mr. Heubeck said that, “[For] at least for the next two years or so we are going to continue this model, and make some adjustments as we need to.”
Clearly, this new exam system had some mixed reviews after this first time through. While there were a lot of positive things that came from the new schedule, it also brought some ideas to the Administration. If the system had more communication throughout the departments, such as a schedule shared with the teachers so work would be more spaced out, the students would be able to balance their workload easier. That being said, the new exam schedule, or at least parts of it, have been accepted by a large number of students throughout Gilman.