‘Tis the Season to Be Stressing


Photo by: Lauren Dawn

Students stress over nearing exams after winter break.

Lauren Dawn, Staff Writer

Winter break is supposed to be a time for students to celebrate the holiday season and relax. It presents the opportunity to spend time with family or even travel somewhere for vacation.

This winter break, however, the new year isn’t the only thing on students’ minds. When students return from break, only a two and a half week period separates the end of vacation from the beginning of midterm exams. It is for this reason that midterm exams should be held before students are released for winter break.

Midterms culminate all the information students have learned in the first semester of the school year. Therefore, these exams have a substantial impact on a student’s final grade in the class.

The problem with scheduling exams after the winter break is that students can easily forget some of the pertinent information they learned, information which will show up on their exams. Teachers will then have to spend time in class reviewing this material which was already taught, while they could have been finishing teaching new material or simply reviewing for the midterm. The valuable class time following the break can either cause teachers to rush new material, or require students to cram information. This system is unfair to students and teachers, as it creates problems within the classroom before and after break.  

To avoid cramming, some teachers recommend studying over break and assign study guides or practice tests which students are expected to have completed upon their return.

Although the teachers’ initial reason for assigning work is to make sure the students retain the information learned before break, in the end, it results in more stress for students, and a lack of a much-needed rest. One of the main reasons for a winter break is to allow students time to spend with friends and family. This gives students time to relax without the responsibilities of schoolwork. With the thought of midterms looming in their near future, some students are never able to fully enjoy their break, as they feel they should be studying for their exams instead of spending well-deserved time off from school and homework. This gives students stress and anxiety over break, with the thought of midterms waiting for them when they return.

However, in order to have midterm exams before winter break, school would need to begin on the last week of August.  Since we begin school after Labor Day, to divide the semesters evenly,  midterms must occur after break, near the end of January.  In order to have midterms before leaving for winter break, the school year would need to start early enough for the semester to end before break – in August. But since the 2006-2007 school year, a law has been passed in Michigan that requires schools to start after Labor day. In order to start school before Labor Day, school districts would need to receive a waiver from the Michigan Department of Education.   

If we were able to schedule exams before leaving for winter break, students would have a better chance of retaining the information better, and would be able to enjoy their time off without stress. When they return in January, students would be ready to start a new chapter of learning. Perhaps the district could consider applying for a waiver so that we could start back to school in August and perhaps design a calendar that would have exams fall on the days before winter break to create a less stressful environment over that time.