Students, Teachers Grind Through Exam Week
All students are different and everyone reacts differently to exams. Some students test well and do well under the pressure while others do not. Despite these differences, exams are a good test of students’ ability to retain the knowledge they have attained over the semester. “In a sense [this is true] because they cover the content that we cover in class, but the drawback to exams is that you often don’t get to see the student in person and really draw out what they actually know beyond the writing on paper,” said Spanish teacher and freshman dean Ms. Riley. On another note, English teacher Mrs. Durlin says that success on the exam lies partly in the hands of the teacher and how they design their exam, in addition to how the students perform.
Exam time can potentially be the busiest and most stressful time of year. Many think that students are the only ones feeling the stress. But while they may not put in hours of studying, teachers put in hours creating their exams along with grading them. “Multiple choice sections tend to take a long time, so maybe five hours for that section, and the rest of the section might take between an hour or two to write,” said Ms. Riley. “So it’s a good amount of work. It’s the proof reading that is actually the most important for me or else I will make mistakes.”
Different courses have different requirements in regards to grading. Some teachers give an exam that is entirely Scantron and takes hardly any time to grade. Most people think that math is the easiest to grade because there is only one right or wrong answer, yet almost all math teachers at Pace will go back through a student’s work to give them partial credit even if their final answer is wrong.
Disregarding other schools in the area, Pace differs in making exams required at the end of the fall semester and the end of the spring semester. But varying by subject, if students have a high enough grade, students taking AP courses and second semester seniors in any course can exempt their spring exams.
Pace students set a very high bar for themselves which results in a lot of self-induced pressure come exam time. English teacher Mr. Canfield thinks that the reaction is over the top and claims that students are “faking it.” Ms. Riley has a different take on the reaction of students: “I think Pace students and Pace culture is very anxiety driven about the grades they receive on exams, which is natural to the culture. I don’t think it’s good or bad, I think it just is. I do think that some Pace students definitely need to relax.” While the anxiety is distressing, Pace exams are a great preparation for college where students may only have two tests and a paper before the exam, and if they fail the exam or don’t take it seriously, they will most likely fail the course.