A Case Against Excessive Midterms

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Illustration by Natalie Dye | Staff Illustrator

Elijah Root-Sanchez

It is midterm season, but in a quarter system it’s always midterm season. After syllabus week, we as students must be in study mode at all times because we always have a midterm coming up, whether it is week three or week eight. Giving up to three midterms is absolutely ridiculous, and it creates an unnecessary culture of constant stress and anxiety. In many cases, a single midterm is enough for the entire quarter.

Before entering college, most students assume that they will be given one midterm and one final as the names “midterm” and “final” imply. The midterm should take place between week four and week six, and the final should be taken during finals week. We were quick to learn that this is usually not the case. Unfortunately, professors have collectively decided to spread their tests throughout the quarter, which ends up making the entire quarter stressful.

Even though these midterms are worth less of our grades because they are diluted throughout the quarter, every midterm will put pressure and panic into the hearts of students. A study done by Center for Collegiate Mental Health found that one-in-five college students suffer from depression and anxiety. These rates are driven by the the inappropriate use of “study drugs” Adderall and Ritalin, according to a study conducted by Northeastern University. Students use these drugs to increase focus and productivity when studying for exams, but they also have the side effects of increased anxiety and depression. When midterm season extends over the entire quarter, it is clear as to why having this much tension will have negative effects on students.

When students are constantly tested throughout the quarter, education stops being about learning information that will prepare us for our careers, but instead becomes about achieving a passing grade. Students develop unhealthy studying habits like cramming as much information as possible into short periods of time.

These habits make it extremely difficult to retain course information after the midterm, let alone until the end of the quarter. We pay thousands of dollars for UCSB to give us the valuable tools that we need for our future careers and graduate school, but instead we simply learn how to pass a class. When one midterm is assigned, students will be less stressed throughout the quarter, so they will now be able to focus on learning the subject, gaining the ability to apply it to their future.

The exception can only be made when courses are separated into two drastically different sections, such as how Introduction to Economics is separated into microeconomics and macroeconomics. In these types of situations, two midterms can be necessary, but in most cases, one is enough.

The amount of midterms given thought the quarter is excessive, and professors need to consider reducing the amount to one. This way, students can stop focusing solely on a passing grade and start focusing on learning.