Freshmen feel extra pressure as exams draw near

By Ruthie Gaw / Sports Editor 

The dreaded word “exams” has circulated the halls for the past few weeks, and the air has reverberated with stress and anxiety. Exams are overwhelming for every grade, but this year the pressure falls on freshmen in particular. Going into their first high school exam season with no prior experience, freshmen feel extra distress.

“I’m super overwhelmed and stressed about it because we have so much to know,” freshman Ferrell Wilson said. 

EXAM ROOKIES: Freshmen Meg Winston and Taylor Hurst cram for their first-ever exam at Harpeth Hall on Dec. 3. Photo by Mary Meacham / Photography Editor.

Students say it has become increasingly difficult to start studying while simultaneously learning the new material with exams on the horizon.

“I wish we weren’t learning right up to the exam date. I have tests a couple of days before the exam,” Wilson said. Note: There is a period before exams without assessments which starts on December 8th. 

The current freshmen were seventh-graders when Covid-19 hit, and as a result, they experienced their middle school years without exams. 

“I feel like the underdog compared to other people who have taken exams before. Because of Covid in the middle school, we couldn’t take exams, so it’s a little overwhelming,” Wilson said.

The middle school curriculum plays a vital role in preparing students for the intense high school routine.

“I feel like middle school could have prepared us more because we had one exam per year,” freshman Annabelle Thomas said.

“It wasn’t even a formal exam. In seventh grade, we had one math exam. In eighth grade, we only had a math exam as well, and then we just had tests, but they weren’t formal exams,” Wilson said. “We just had tests, but they weren’t formal exams.’

Diving headfirst into a whole new environment creates a feeling of instability within the freshmen as they do not know what to expect from an exam at the high school level.

“We are stressed and feel a little bit unprepared, but I am trying to stay optimistic,” freshman Campbell Counter said. 

There are numerous opportunities for all students, especially freshmen, to gain some confidence before exams. One resource includes Upper School Learning Specialist Dina Stevenson, who is always open to helping students develop beneficial study plans and strategies. 

Free Community Times and other breaks are great opportunities to meet with Mrs. Stevenson or any other teacher. Taking advantage of free time within the school day is a great way to feel more prepared about the material. 

“More free community times where we could study for exams would be helpful because I would be able to meet with more teachers,” Wilson said. 

The freshmen’s predicament serves to remind the whole student body that even though stress and anxiety can overwhelm, grades do not define students. Nonetheless, seeking out ways to manage time and prepare well for significant assignments is a life skill that all students learn, even through adversity. 

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