As I’m sure you have all recognized as early as your first month at Brown, the word “midterm” doesn’t necessarily mean that the test takes place in the middle of the term, as the definition below suggests. Instead, midterms occur all-year round and happen about once a month. Why professors even call them “midterms” completely boggles the mind.
Regardless, they’re exams, and horrible exams in general. We’re able to get through them, for the most part; but when a midterm is scheduled the week before reading week, or better yet, during reading week, that is just cruel. CRUEL. It is not a “midterm” and it is not fair. And here is why:
1. It’s just stupid: Isn’t the final supposed to test you on your ability to synthesize all of the information that you’ve learned in the last semester? Isn’t it supposed to test you on the most recent section of material since the last midterm? But if you have a midterm the week before/of reading week, you won’t be learning any new information after that point, so what’s the point in having both a midterm and a final? Isn’t the final then just a second, extended last midterm? It’s not going to test you on any new material, so what’s the point? It’s just stupid. That’s the only way to describe it. We often feel like professors think that their class is the only class we devote our time and attention to, but pulling a stunt like this makes it a little bit easier to call them sadists, and not in the fun way.
2. You can forget about having a Thanksgiving: I don’t know what professors think Thanksgiving is, but for me, it’s an opportunity to eat really good food, to be with friends and family, and to not have to worry about anything for like a hot second. Oh, and to be thankful for all that we have in our lives. Right. But we can’t do that if we’re perpetually studying for our midterm the following week. And yeah, I recognize that Thanksgiving came super late this year and everyone’s schedules were out of whack, but that doesn’t negate the fact that a good chunk of students couldn’t enjoy Thanksgiving at all because they were studying for an exam.
Thanksgiving break is supposed to be a break, and an important one at that. The point is to say you’re going to get a lot of work done but not actually do it because you’re in a four-day food coma. If you do choose to enjoy your Thanksgiving as was intended, you come back feeling frantic because you only have three days to study for your midterm, you’re screwed, and you don’t do well on the exam. And you then have to do super well on the final but you have…
3. Burnout: The truth of the matter is, studying for a midterm this late in the game detracts from your ability to study for your finals, some of which even take place during reading week themselves (a topic for its own flog)! Burnout is a very real thing, and if you’re working your ass off to study for a midterm, how the hell can you then muster up the energy to study for a final, which are usually worth more grade-wise, a week later? Professors need to realize that we’re human, and we need to do human things like take a goddamn break. It’s hard enough living only off of snacks and caffeine during reading and finals week, going from one test or paper straight into the next, but if we need to spend the entire week leading up to that studying for a midterm, that’s just unhealthy. And it doesn’t bode well for studying for finals.
Whether you’re finishing up midterms or starting finals, remember that you are not alone.
And do your best. That’s all anyone can ask of you.
Good luck to all!