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An unprecedented midterm season

An unprecedented midterm season

Rather than the usual week of exams, this midterm season has felt like a full month with the transformation to online testing. Personally, my Zoom fatigue peaked during the last few weeks. I barely got a break from my computer screen as I alternated from going to Zoom classes, to taking online tests, to typing papers.

Professors had more time to think about their testing format this semester as compared to last Spring. Of course, the format of exams depends on the subject— generally speaking, math and science courses do not have the option to offer essays in replacement of tests.

As a social science major, I experienced a variety of formats, ranging from in-class exams to online tests to “take-home” essays. While many professors tried their best to mirror in-person exams by having students take an exam during the class period with their computer cameras on, a drastic difference remained: all of my professors reverted to giving open-note tests.

While an open-book exam sounds like a dream for students, I have realized that this format does not guarantee that an exam is easier. For instance, more time is spent flipping through notebooks looking for a specific lecture rather than having most of the information memorized.

Additionally, professors who gave open-note exams tended to avoid multiple choice questions, and instead included short responses. Since short responses better demonstrate a student’s capability to apply information, they are time-consuming and arguably more difficult.

When taking timed online exams, I found myself concentrating on editing, constantly rearranging sentences, and replacing words—something that I do not tend to contemplate when writing an exam by hand. Rather than crossing words out or adding sentences in the margins of the paper, typing on the computer allows for text to be edited easily. The online format took time away from focusing on content.

In my experience, I noticed an increase in midterms being take-home assignments, which were typically essays. While essays do not require studying, nor do they have time limitations, this type of midterm format ends up taking up more time in order to gather materials and edit the work. Since the majority of my midterms were in this format, it was stressful to juggle writing multiple exams simultaneously.

Although I personally had a stressful midterm experience, I unfortunately think this is a byproduct of the online transition. Loyola professors have genuinely considered the best options to test students dependent on each major and made this transition as worthwhile as possible, which is evident through the range of exam formats that I experienced. 

For more stories about navigating Loyola’s online learning environment, keep up-to-date with The Greyhound.

Featured Image courtesy of Melissa via Flickr Creative Commons

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An unprecedented midterm season