Tests before break: Yay or Nay?

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Photo by Ryan Weiner

With packed assignment schedules all throughout the month of December, it can be draining for students to take tests right before a long break.

By Ryan Weiner, Editor-in-Chief

It’s 7:45 am on Dec 19. The bell ringing symbolizes the start of what many consider to be the longest four days of the school year, the week before Winter Break. While many students simply want to show up, do minor classwork and get out, it is more likely that they will be bogged down with tests, quizzes, quests or whatever other names teachers use to sugarcoat an exam. Regardless of the name, teachers shouldn’t be giving students exams the week before Winter Break.

There are many reasons why the practice of teachers giving an exam before break shouldn’t be happening. However, the most obvious one is the fact that attendance drops considerably across the week leading up to the break. While most students tend to be at school on Monday, very few will end up in school by Thursday. Yet, this hasn’t stopped teachers from assigning exams. Students who will not be in class are often given the opportunity to take it either after the break or before the class takes it. 

The absence of students during test days causes unfair advantages to various groups, which can harm the integrity of the test. Students who take exams after the break have far more time to study than students who attend school on the day, which isn’t fair to students who choose to adhere to the school schedule. On the contrary, students who are forced to take the exam before they leave might not be prepared or even know all the content, which can leave students going on family vacations with a deep hole in the gradebook.

Another issue with exams being before Winter Break is the academic burnout it can cause among  students. By the time Winter Break nears, students are absolutely exhausted. According to a study done by New York University, nearly half of all high school students already consider themselves “greatly stressed” on a daily basis. The major causes of this stress include preparing for college, homework and grades. 

By adding tests to the fold alongside these common high school stressors when students haven’t had a true break from school in almost a month, the added stress and study time required to complete and succeed in most tests can be daunting to students and cause academic burnout. 

Lastly, the holidays are supposed to be a time for students to relax and enjoy time with friends and family. With Hanukkah starting on Dec. 18, the large population of Jewish students at WCHS will still be expected to attend school during the majority of the holiday. This means that they will have to decide between spending time with loved ones or doing homework and studying for tests. Considering Christian students get to spend Christmas with their families without the stress of tests, it is unfair for the Jewish students at WCHS who do not get the same luxury for their holiday. 

However, it is obvious that teachers cannot purposefully abandon their course schedule to avoid giving any tests on the week before Winter Break. Therefore, the best solution that addresses both the concerns of students and the class’ progress is for teachers to reach out to their classes in advance to ask about which test date is best around Winter Break. This has proved effective already at WCHS in the 2022-23 school year, as Ms. Showen’s AP Statistics classes were given the option to take a unit test before or after Winter Break. This was done without compromising the schedule of the class and allowed for students to have a say in mitigating the stress of pre-break tests. 

In conclusion, the Winter holidays are meant to be a time for students, regardless of when said holidays start, to enjoy time with their family and destress. Therefore, WCHS must do a better job of respecting students’ traditions and stress when it comes to the administration of exams before Winter Break.