Exams get teachers, students thinking

By John Loop and Kasey Tucker

As exam week creeps ever closer, moans and groans begin resonating from the crowded halls of Coppell High School. Students begin cramming the mathematical formulas and Spanish vocabulary into their brains to make sure they are adequately prepared for the big tests.

In high schools everywhere, teachers are beginning to challenge their students more and more to think critically as well as problem solve. One way that has commonly been used is the creation of a tangible product(s) for the mid-term and end-of year exams. This in turn placates stressing teachers with the grading process, and more opportunity for students to get their creative juices flowing.

Some students still prefer the multiple choice tests distributed by each subject’s department.

“I prefer to take the multiple choice test because it is much easier to study for,” senior Garrett Nickols said.

Even though some prefer the regurgitation of simple facts on paper, there are others who see the value of the different approach to exams.

“Teachers are choosing to do it this way because they want their students to have absorbed the information throughout the semester, so they will know the material without seeing multiple choice answers to refresh their memories,” sophomore Haley Smith acknowledged.

With the projects that some teachers are beginning to use, students are forced out of their comfort zone, causing them to have to think critically and apply the entire semester’s skillset.

Academy Chemistry teacher Sally Urquhart is asking her students to create a “review game” to help them study for the exam.

“Ironically, what better way is there to study than to make the game, have all of the students play it, than look at the game, from a grading perspective, as the exam itself,” Urquhart stated.

Junior Matt Freese is experiencing this new type of exam firsthand in his engineering class.

“We are creating an eco-friendly model of a house on the computer and doing a full write-up on the features and inner workings of it,” Freese said.

Though many faculty members have not conformed to the idea of non-department testing, there is still a possibility of upward trend towards more creative assessments.

“You’re starting to see a trend in an application type of exam,” assistant principal Sean Bagley said, “As things start to change, the tests themselves might begin to move further away from a 100 to 200 question multiple choice exam to creating a product or a project.”

Among the hardest exams to study for are math and science because of students needing to recall every tiny piece of knowledge dating to the beginning of the school year.

“Math and Science are the hardest, in my opinion, because there’s a lot of little stuff you have to know and remember from the beginning of the year as well,” Freese said.

Both students and faculty agree that the hardest subject to excel in is foreign language.

“I think foreign language exams are the hardest, just because all of the grammar and vocabulary you have to practically memorize,” Nickols stated, ”Unless you go to tutoring, then you don’t get the study time with your teacher outside of class trying to figure out all the parts of the language itself that you don’t quite understand.”

The foreign language tests are definitely a force to be reckoned with, especially because of the oral component.

“There is a speaking part associated with all of the languages, so there is something that is not using pen and paper,” Bagley said.

Exams may be the hardest for freshmen, who may have no idea what high school exams bring to the table.

For all of those who need some guidance on preparing and taking the exams, Nickols offers his insight based on his previous midterm experience.

“Once you get your reviews from each of your classes, start studying immediately,” Nickols said, “that way you can get as much of a head start as you can.”