MS and US Students Prepare for Midterms

By Emily Malloy

Of all of the changes to schools we have witnessed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, one stands out more than the rest. Schools have moved some students to distance learning either by choice, or required quarantine because they became ill, or by contact tracing. For Oak Hall Middle and Upper School students, midterms and exams determine a huge part of their overall semester grade. With the coronavirus forcing many people to stay home and bans on group gatherings, many measures have been introduced for the exams that students have been preparing to take. 

Students prepare their whole semester for the midterms by ensuring they keep up with past material so they can be prepared. Considering the amount of time and stress students put into this test, some questions have been raised about how midterms will be completed by online students this year. Although colleges cannot see grades earned in Middle School, students and teachers still take these exams very seriously to make sure students are prepared for what’s to come at the Upper School, and just to assess what they have learned during the semester. Kelly Warm, Assistant Director of the Middle School and the Director of Teaching and Learning says that for in-person students, the Middle School using the same structure as last year, having midterms by period with the proctoring done by the teacher of the class. For online students, It will be the same schedule as in-person students, but done at home with a lockdown browser in place to avoid cheating. For the extra time students or students with certain accommodations in the Middle School, the schedule is the same, but they will have a break at noon and be able to return to the classroom to complete their exam. In an attempt not to overwhelm students, some teachers are doing an end of the year project or essay instead of an exam. “I think it is very important to balance the workload for the kids,” Warm said. Midterms for eighth graders will count for 20 percent of the final grade with seventh graders at 15 percent and sixth graders at 10 percent. 

John Perlette, Director of the Upper School, says that in-person exams will be very similar to last year, as exams will be from 9 a.m. until noon and are 20 percent of the final semester grade. Students who have been in-person all semester cannot decide to go online for midterms unless there is a valid reason. In order to maintain the safest environment possible, classes will most likely stay together unless there are two very small classes they may combine, but other combinations that make bigger numbers will be in bigger areas like the Student Center or Media Center. Teachers have the option of proctoring their own exam, but since Upper School teachers teach numerous periods, and different subjects throughout the day, they will be considered a “rover” and can go into classrooms to answer questions. If a student misses their exam, it can be made up after the winter break. Much like the Middle School, the Upper School midterms are about mastery. “I think that everybody is going to write exams keeping in mind what they were able to accomplish this semester, and they will be written fairly and in such a way to determine what it is we really want to know, which is have you mastered the skills we have been trying to teach you all semester,” said Perlette.

Upper School Science Department Head and science teacher, Kristin Wilson, says the Upper School science department is allowing students to have an open note midterm in order to level the playing field for in-person and online students. “For Physics and Chemistry, it is quite hard to have a completely online exam due to equations, calculations, numbers and showing work – so students will be doing paper exams in person, and for online, viewing a PDF of the test and writing their answers down and [are] emailing them back as a PDF,” Wilson said. For her biology class, she has decided to give her exam through Canvas even though in previous years her midterms were paper exams. Paper exams are increasingly difficult this year since so many students are online, a digital version seemed like the better option. 

Midterm Information

  • The last day for teachers to teach new content is Tuesday, Dec. 8. Review days are Wednesday through Friday, Dec. 9-11.
  • Temperature checks will still be a requirement, please plan your schedule accordingly.

Middle School

The following core classes will give a midterm exam or paper/project according to the schedule below.

  • 6th Grade: English, Math, Science, Social Studies, STEM
  • 7th and 8th Grades: English, Math, Science, Social Studies, World Language
Mon. Dec 14Tues. Dec. 15Wed. Dec. 16Thurs. Dec. 17Fri. Dec. 18
6th gradeB periodC periodE periodF periodG period
7th gradeA periodB periodD periodF periodG period
8th gradeA periodC periodD periodE periodG period
Middle School midterm schedule

Upper School

  • For students who don’t have an exam on a certain day (ex. a student does not take a foreign language), they do not need to come to school.
  • All students must remain in their exam rooms until at least 10:30 a.m. After that, students are dismissed for the day upon completion of their exam (students have until noon to complete the exam).
  • The full exam schedule will be posted mid-week at various locations in the Upper School.
  • If a student has an exam conflict – some students have two Science classes, for example – please see Coach Perlette as soon as possible so that it can be resolved. Conflict exams will be offered daily at 1:00 p.m.
Date of ExamExam Subject
Monday, Dec. 14Mathematics
Tuesday, Dec. 15History
Wednesday, Dec. 16World Languages
Thursday, Dec. 17Science
Friday, Dec. 18English
Upper School midterm schedule