It’s an unfortunate fact of life that most of us will have to take final exams or write final papers at the end of this semester, and another fact that finals are, with very few exceptions, mind-numbing and emotionally devastating. Luckily for us, though, there is a time designated solely for final exams during which we have nothing to do but study, procrastinate, obsess and stay up all night reading a tomato sauce-stained textbook, without the pesky interferences of class and other homework.

But for midterms and midterm papers, we aren’t so fortunate. My midterm schedule has been stretched across several weeks, and I know that this isn’t a unique situation. Everyone I know seems to have midterms and large papers popping up all over the place, even now. Midterms may, in theory, often be slightly easier than finals, or at least cover a more narrow scope of material. But students still deserve more of a study period than Fall Break, which comes after midterms for many students, anyway.

To balance the difference, I propose that the University treat midterm season the same way it treats finals season. The University wouldn’t have to set aside more than a week to accomplish this task, since some classes with finals don’t have midterms, meaning there would be fewer potential scheduling conflicts. If, instead of Fall Break, we had that entire week devoted solely to midterms and devoid of classes, it would be a far better system than the one currently in place.

One obvious objection is that it means several class sessions that professors currently count on would be off the schedule. But this could be easily remedied. The University gives us one of the longest summers on record each year, and isn’t technically even obligated to offer any minimum number of sessions of each class. To prolong the school year by only three days hardly seems like a great sacrifice by the student body in exchange for a more suitable midterm system. And I would argue that even if extending the year is ultimately impractical, losing those teaching days in favor of a better evaluation system is a worthy trade-off.

The relaxation students would miss on those three once-summer, now-school days is far less than the relaxation gained from not having to juggle midterms with everything else going on at the time. Without the distractions of homework, classes and student group meetings, midterm season would no longer make students angry at every little time commitment that stands in the way of their studying. Obviously, exams are always somewhat stressful, but this can never and should never be completely alleviated — attending the University of Michigan should come with some stress. But any exam stress should come from studying the material, not from the obstacles preventing you from doing so.

There are also those who fear classes would lose momentum, but in my experience, midterms already cause this. Classes slow down for review anyway, so it may as well be at a uniform time. Also, holding the exams during a set time equalizes the playing field for all students, while the current system allows some students plenty of time to study for an exam that other students may have no time for. We consider fairness on final exams to be important enough to merit setting aside time for them, and midterms should be no different.

While the goal isn’t to enable all students to pass every exam with flying colors, there is a large possibility that many students would do better with the altered system — and this, because it would happen for the right reasons, would be a great thing. I am not a proponent of arbitrary grade inflation or overly generous professors — grades should be deserved — but if an otherwise beneficial policy also happens to lead to students doing better on exams, surely this is something worth embracing. With a less stressful and more equal setting, students would be better able to show accurately how much they have learned a the material at hand — not just how much they were able to cram in between fulfilling their many other obligations. The University should be in full support of a system that leads to students getting grades that are more reflective of actual comprehension.

It seems difficult, then, for the University to argue against a uniform exam policy. It creates an equal playing field for students and lowers unnecessary stress. The only major complaints I hear from other students about the existing finals policy stem from some classes not actually following those policies. To apply that system to midterms and midterm papers feels like a logical and overdue next step.

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