Zooming Through Exams

With online learning extended to the end of the year, finals have been redesigned


Photo: Tunisu/Pixabay

Students now have their entire academic lives online, including their assessments.

With the new online environment for school, very important aspects of UPrep students’ academic lives have changed. Zoom classes have been extended till the end of the year, and it will unequivocally change finals this year.

Meghan Shortell, a math teacher who conducts end-of-year exams, gave insight into how many teachers’ classes have been different. 

“With classes half their usual length, it’s a lot of instruction time lost. I think everyone had to redesign their learning objectives for the last semester of school,” Shortell said.

She then went into more detail on the changes to student’s testing, including finals, experiences.

“When testing in class, everything’s standardized. When in their homes, students decide their environment. These differences can affect their work. Tests are also now done online, instead of paper. For some students, this is more comfortable for them. But it’s quite different from what most are used to, and is a big adjustment,” Shortell said.

Like Shortell said, students are adapting. Eighth-grader Alexa Carlisle has been one of them. She is working hard to do well in her classes and prepare for tests.

“I have mixed opinions on taking finals online. I like taking tests on paper, and don’t really like to do them on my iPad. I get distracted too easily,” Carlisle said. “But teachers are working really hard to make us comfortable in online school, so that extra help is nice.” 

UPrep is trying to help its students and teachers, though, and has been working to make online school work for the long term.

Director of Middle School Susie Wu is also a leader in scheduling and controlling UPrep’s new system of education. She talked about the circumstances that led to online finals being an inevitability.

“We weren’t really thinking about finals when we created our design for online learning,” Wu said. “Originally, it was supposed to be two weeks, then we added four more, and then the rest of the year. We’ve been trying to cope with that since. Finals, and tests for that matter, weren’t part of the plan.”

Ms. Wu continued by mentioning UPrep’s goals with online learning.

“Our first priority is to give students a sense of structure and feasibility for students in the things we do. We want students to feel comfortable, and not add more stress to the already stressful situation,” Wu said.

Wu then spoke about finals, and added this:

“I believe exams have two purposes. To review material from the semester or year, and to sort students by their levels of understanding. This year, we want students to review and know their material more than we want them to get high scores,” Wu said.