by Jennifer Mitchell
This 2009-2010 academic year, RFH has replaced its former midterm and final assessment format with quarterly exams, receiving a variety of responses from students. This new policy includes four assessments a year, immediately following the end of each marking period. Each exam period is shorter than those that existed during midterm and final exams, and combine to represent the same percentage of one’s final grade as a marking period. While some students had doubts about this new exam format, others found themselves welcoming the changes. Whether a senior taking exams for the last time or a freshman experiencing them for the first time, students’ experiences have changed through this new quarterly exam policy and schedule.
Upon return to RFH this fall, students learned that taking quarterlies meant that not only would they have four exams a year, but also that they would have class following those exams. With the old schedule, students came to school to take midterms and finals and then left immediately following their completion. There were no classes, much like one finds during any typical collegiate finals week.
However, the quarterly schedule included abbreviated class periods between the first and second exam of each day. A student took one exam in the morning, went to each class for roughly 30 minutes and then took a second exam in the afternoon. Due to a few hiccups, the testing schedule changed for the second quarterly. Both exams were scheduled in the morning, with a 45 minute study hall in between. Similarly, students were then dismissed early on days 3 and 4, allowing time for makeups on the last two afternoons of exams.
The underclassmen have never experienced exams like the quarterlies prior to their first exam this past fall. Many found the quarterly schedule offered a comfortable transition to RFH’s examination process. Similarly, students typically felt the schedule had been improved between the first and second quarterly exam. A specific student commented that his second experience had been better then the first one since the new quarterly schedule had been in place and he now understood the expectations and rigor of the exam. Underclassmen perhaps struggled more with this transition, as they had no previous experience with which to base this new schedule, and had difficulty remembering material from the entire semester.
However, many also expressed that although they initially felt stressed at the prospect of taking four exams a year, they soon realized that each exam covered less material and was therefore easier to prepare for. This had always been a major source of stress for upperclassmen who remembered studying large quantities of materials covering an entire semester’s worth of work and information.
Both upperclassmen and underclassmen also felt that their grades have been helped by the quarterly exams. Quarterly exams do give students more opportunities to do well, although more preparation is involved. When asked what could be done to improve the schedule, both the upper and underclassmen suggested removing the scheduled class periods that followed the exams on Days 1 and 2.