The Holiday Season: A Time to Relax?

When the last bell rings and MVHS students pile out of their classrooms, many are excited for the upcoming holiday. However, many are also worried because they know their holiday is going to be spent doing the one thing they do year-round: studying for tests. Teachers should not place their exams right after the holidays because it negates the entire purpose of having a break.

Imagine having a holiday jam-packed with studying for tests or completing a huge project and then returning to MVHS in the new year only to more pressure. MVHS students are overwhelmed, working day in and day out for their classes and extracurriculars. For many students, grades are a measure of their self worth and are much more than just a letter or percentage.

If teachers assign a test to be right after a holiday, there is no doubt that the students are going to spend the majority of their holiday time studying for it. This is not fair on the student because breaks are a time to refresh and completely detach from bustling school life.

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Studying during the break takes away from relaxation time for students. (Source: Steven S. – used with Creative Commons license)

Freshman Naomi Desai agrees that holidays should be a time off from schoolwork to relax.

“During vacations is the only time when I’m not super stressed about school and having a ‘detox’ from school and stress help me get back on track,” Desai said. “When I’m pushing all the stressful thoughts about school and grades out during a holiday, my brain functions so much better when school starts again.”

Desai says that during the holidays she tries her hardest to have as much fun as she can. The intent of the holidays for MVHS students is to recharge, take part in non-academic activities and spend time outdoors. Although, often times when caught up in the rapid swing of daily life, students forget to make time for themselves.

Even freshman Ishani Singh has realized the importance and purpose of the holidays from her first semester at MVHS.

“Breathe,” Singh said. “To me, the holidays are, in simplest terms, the time to stop and breathe every once in awhile. Monta Vista moves so quickly and between projects and unit exams, I rarely have time to just calm myself and chill because I’m always so stressed about my grades and tests.”

Although research conducted by the Knewton science team shows that the closer an exam is to a holiday, the worse the student performs on it, having exams after holidays could be even more detrimental. It’s similar to exercise: if you sprint for a short burst and take a break in between, you’ll be able to sprint at the same pace after taking the break. If instead of taking a break you attempted to sprint continuously at the same pace for a long period of time, you would be completely worn out.

The students who spend their entire holiday studying are like the latter of the exercise situation and would go into the exam mentally exhausted. This could potentially affect their score on the test and would no doubt make them feel worse. Additionally, studying a lot for a test sets expectations really high, and having high expectations means the student is more likely to be upset with their score. Therefore, having tests before the break could reduce the amount of unnecessary worry and strain the student has during the break. Both Desai and Singh agree that taking tests before the holiday is better.

“I like taking tests before a holiday because it’s easier to just get it over with,” Singh said. “If a teacher gives me a huge project to do during the break, I don’t get enough time to rest. It’s like school is still going on.”

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Infographic by Sangita Kunapuli.

We all have that infamous to-do list that continues to pile up as time progresses. For students, having this list of work staring them in the face is constantly stressful but even more so after the break because then it hits them that they need to get to work. Having tests after the break also provides similar emotions of anxiety and tension. Singh shares this feeling, having personally experienced this during her breaks in the past.

“Going back to school after a holiday gives me a lot of stress,” Singh said. “I know I’m not at my peak learning place and I always wish that the break could’ve been longer. The Monday when school resumes always hits me hard. But I’m thankful that I got to enjoy a break from school.”

Singh thinks that all students should be able to have a “jolly time” during the holidays preferably without the looming pressures of extracurriculars and AP classes. In the event that teachers assign tests, the best way to deal with it is to manage your time wisely and make time to relax.

However, teachers should not assign tests to be right after the break because students deserve to have time away from school to destress, unwind and ultimately, relax.