A Student’s Guide To Conquering Midterm Exam Week


Rockbridge County High School’s 2021 Midterm Winter Exam schedule.

Reagan Woody, Opinion Editor

The views expressed in this article belong to the reporter, and do not reflect the views held by Rockbridge County High School, the Prowler Staff, and its members.

As the holidays near, the last week before winter break used to be one of my favorite times during the school year. In middle and elementary school,  the final week before break would be spent hosting holiday themed parties, eating holiday themed treats, and watching joyful movies during class. There were no major midterm tests, and I felt like I was able to truly relax after completing a long first semester. 

But that was soon to change. When I first entered high school, I was happily awaiting this specific week before break to have some holiday fun with my friends during class. However, that dream was soon shot down as I learned of the horror awaiting all high school students: midterm exam week. 

Each student spent the whole week taking long exams, stretching over the final week before school let out for break. I will not lie; exam week is long and strenuous. I remember spending long hours studying and preparing as hard as I could, because I knew that these tests were weighted as 20 percent of my semester grade. 

Along with these long tests, another struggle that is presented is that RCHS has not had an exam week since 2019, before the closure of schools began due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Rockbridge County High School’s current Junior and Senior classes were the last classes to have completed exams during the 2019-’20 school year, so current Freshman and Sophomores have never experienced a true high school midterm week. 

But fear not Wildcat students! As an RCHS junior who has experienced exam week,and survived it, in past years, I am here to help you prepare with some useful tips. 

To begin, it is always important to pay attention in class, take notes, complete all assignments, and most importantly retain the information you learn. Many students will learn material just to pass a single test, and then forget about it afterwards. Despite this, one is not able to do this in high school classes. Course material comes back and can be asked about on your midterm exams. 

It is also important to spend time outside of class going over material, as developing good study habits can play a major role in how well you score on these tests. About three weeks prior to exam week, or right as we get back from Thanksgiving break, I typically start spending about half an hour after school everyday, reviewing notes from the first nine weeks of my classes. This allows me to get this information refreshed and back in my head, so that I can be sure that I can get that information correct on my exams. 

One of the main reasons it is important to get a head start when studying for midterms is because you have to take an exam for each class you are enrolled in. One’s midterm grade will play a role in your semester grade in the end. Fortunately, the overall percentage that these exams will have on your grades has been lowered due to COVID-19 and the effects on our school’s operating schedule in the past two years. Instead of midterms counting as 20 percent of your grades, like they have in past years, they will only count as 10 percent this year. 

In addition to getting a head start on studying, a helpful tip when going through exam week is to take your time on all tests. It is especially important to focus in and concentrate on these tests, because of how long they are. From my experience, each exam was about fifty to sixty questions each. Each exam will last approximately an hour and a half, which gives students plenty of time to complete their tests. 

Ms. Payne, who teaches upper level English classes, shares her thoughts and advice on how to successfully master exam week. 

“During an exam, it is important to note that confidence is key, do not second guess yourself, and get a good night’s sleep the night before each exam. It is also important to study well before, because you are not going to remember everything you crammed the hour before, so space out your studying” said Payne.  

Payne also shares that it is important for each student to know how to study to fit their individual learning styles, as this will be most beneficial to them.

“Students should review previous material and check with their teacher for a study guide before your exams. Make sure you know how you should study because I have done a lot of research that shows that it does not matter how I teach you, as it is more about your learning and studying style that will help you retain information” said Payne.

Payne continued saying, “Those are the types of things that come into play about how you process the material and not how I teach you the material. A lot of brain research shows that taking practice tests helps a great deal. If you use something like Quizlet and create some kind of practice test to study multiple times over, then something like that is most beneficial to your brain.” 

Though midterm exams can be a pain in the neck for high school students to take, Payne expresses the importance of trying your best on these tests. 

“Exams are important in terms of a teaching tool, as it helps you solidify your knowledge of a subject and see the overall connections from the first semester of learning,” says Payne.

Exam week is scheduled to begin on Dec. 16, with the first exam scheduled being the 4th period exam on that Thursday. 1st and 5th period exams are to follow on Friday, with 2nd and 6th period exams on the next Monday, and finally with 3rd and 7th period exams on that Tuesday. Remember Wildcats: with a little bit of work, you are going to do amazing!