As the Belmont Hill student body navigates the 2019 Midyear exam period, it is worth a moment to examine the history of our current schedule. Recent Belmont Hill alums will remember the years of holding the Midyear Exam period after Winter Break, a concept that seems foreign to current students. Motivated by student requests, the administration explored various options, which yielded our current mid-December exam schedule, with three review days and three exam days the final week before break.
While the schedule has proved navigable for students over the past seven years, the many conflicting interests at this time of year make it nearly impossible for students to achieve exam perfection. First, exam review days are not as effective as possible because students still have a full load of classes, leaving little additional time to prepare for the impending assessments. Furthermore, student athletic commitments during those review days and the weekend before exams conflict with finding adequate time to study and sleep in advance of the exam period. Secondly, many members of the community have called into question the learning value of the two school days post-exam, often referred to by teachers and students alike as “throwaway” days. While they serve as backup in the event that school is cancelled due to weather, there are other ways to ensure the availability of assessment days.
How could the midyear exams be improved? Instead of holding exams Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of the week before Winter Break, what if they were pushed back one day and Monday was an additional review day. This would allow for Friday to be a reserve exam day in case of a Snow Day, and for students to enter the week with a final review session after their weekend of preparation. Additionally, during review days, only the classes that students have exams in should meet, although a concession for AP classes could be added. This would allow students to seek out their teachers for additional review sessions and provide them with further opportunities to promote student collaboration, in the timeless spirit of Working Together. Student athletic commitments on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday must be required to be complete by 4:00 pm and 2:15/4:00 Study Halls should be canceled to facilitate this change. Finally, the requirement that no athletic commitments can be scheduled during the weekend before exams must be instituted to preserve the time for exam preparation.
Despite opportunities to improve, the current exam schedule does allow for most students to successfully complete sufficient review for their exams and get well-deserved rest during the subsequent Winter Break. As the school continues to incorporate student opinion in all aspects, one hopes that the Midyear Calendar will continue to be improved to benefit all constituencies in the greater Belmont Hill Community.