Should we be Giving Tests After a Break?


JJ Brough

Recently we got off of Christmas break, and every time we hit this time of year, I have to question, should we really be giving our semester finals right after we leave school for two weeks, or in our case, three weeks? The goal here is that I want to prove that it would have been better for us to finish tests before the break, as opposed to after the break, and we need to stop having the term play out this way with large tests being right after the Christmas break, where inevitably, none of the students are going to study heavily.

In an interview of psychotherapist with Susan Stiffelman, it was said that students need to give their bodies downtime to cope with stress, “I think it all ties in to fear” she says, and as such, breaks are important, that is undeniable, but giving a test right after that downtime doesn’t help because that will only result in poorer test results. This is shown pretty well in a study done by Hermann Ebbinghaus. Ebbinghaus claimed that “people will remember nonsense phrases just as well as new information.” In this study, done in 1885, he tests how people retain information over a period of time, ranging from 20 minutes to a full month, and in this study, it shows that as soon as 2 days only 27% of people retained the information given, and by 31 days it was only 20%, any time before that was exponentially larger, but that shows that as soon as 2 days much info is forgotten, and with that we can easily assume that information is not going to be retained all too well after a break, unless you know the topic very well.

Students should be well aware by now that they don’t perform very well directly after a break, maybe a month or so after, sure, because they got their down time, but certainly not directly after, and that’s what I’m arguing against. In a study done by the Huffington post it showed that students simply don’t do well in school for a bit after a long break, and that’s only to be expected.

That may be a convincing enough argument for the students, after all, they don’t want to test after a break either, but what about the teachers? Well, i believe that testing before a break is also advantageous for the teachers. Teachers really aren’t given much time to grade, but in the case of doing the test before a break, their given a much larger amount of time to do that grading. They shouldn’t have to work over the break of course, but it would give them much more leg room than what they already have.