Campus Life | Midterm Madness

Campus Life is a biweekly blog about the everyday things happening around Pitt’s campus.

By Shriya Yadamreddi, For The Pitt News

As the halfway point approaches for the first semester fully in-person since spring 2020, many students are starting to worry about taking midterms and other tests in a physical classroom.

I took my first midterm last week, and all of the nerve-racking feelings came rushing back to me. The stressful feeling of whether or not you studied enough right before you walk into the classroom, or the feeling of if you are fully prepared to even take the test just as the professor is handing it out, was all too familiar.

In a way, I kind of missed that rush of excitement and anxiety — it pushed me to study harder so that I felt more prepared for the next exam. I missed the relief I felt as I handed in my test and walked out the door, hoping I passed. Or when I would meet up with my friends after the test and compare all of my answers with theirs so I could get the reassurance I needed.

On the other hand, some of my friends actually preferred their tests and classes being fully online last year. They liked being able to take exams on their own time when they felt the most prepared. Although the dates for some tests might remain the same, some of my classes gave us the option to take it anytime during the day with a time limit last year.

A friend of mine mentioned how tests are more stressful this semester than last year. Even though most of us took the SATs and ACTs in person in high school, ever since everything moved online, taking these exams in person is much scarier.

I also feel like a lot of students are taking these in-person tests more seriously than they did before COVID-19. When they were still online, I noticed some of my friends did not study as often or put that much time into it. Now, I notice that the Hillman Library is constantly full with students studying and some even pulling all-nighters, and it’s not even finals season yet.

A close friend said she feels like having these bigger exams in person again is creating a lot of pressure for her and took a bit of a toll on her mental health. She feels as if it would have been smarter if professors eased into the tests more and gave the option of taking them online, while still attending in-person classes.

From my personal experience, I think it would have been easier on students, and myself, if professors gave us the option to take these exams online. This way students do not need to go through the panic and stress of taking them in person.

On the other hand, other students are saying they enjoy the in-person tests, and feel as if they perform better in a classroom and do not get as distracted sitting in their room taking them. Some of my friends are saying that it is easier to ask professors questions during exams and that they receive more individualized attention. I remember when I took my exams online last year, I would have to send in a text in the Zoom chat and wait for my professor to see it and answer my question. This meant I had less time to actually take my test since there was a time limit on it.

Taking midterms and other big tests in person versus online can have its positives and negatives, but it’s in the hands of the students and how they coordinate their time to study for it and handle the pressure of exams.

I can understand how some of these tests can create a burden for students, especially after being given the freedom of being able to take a test when you feel ready to do so. Hopefully, after this first semester of being back to fully in-person classes, students will feel like they are back into the swing of things and will not feel as much pressure from exams.