Skills-based exams loom over SIS


Paul Moon, Managing Editor

As the first semester comes to a close, classrooms across the school discuss the instructions, expectations, and grading of one particular summative: skills-based exams (SBEs). These tests constitute exactly 10% of a student’s entire GPA, so doing poorly has the potential to significantly lower an individual’s grades, which can cause a lot of stress for students taking them.

“Skill-based exams are stressful because we need to review many of the topics and skills that we went over in previous units, which creates a large range of items we need to study,” Riona Kim (10), a sophomore taking many SBEs, said. “Since several tests are on the same day, it can be a bit overwhelming studying many subjects at the same time.”

However, not all students state that SBEs are stressful; in fact, many students even state that SBEs are less stressful than regular exams. As the name suggests, SBEs are intended to test the student’s skill rather than overall knowledge, so some subjects have SBEs that require little preparation but do need comprehensive ability in relevant skills.

“I think that SBEs are not stressful because they are based on the skills that we have developed throughout the year, so there is no introduction of new topics we need to study,” Jinmin Lee (9), a freshman taking the SBEs for the first time, said. “For regular exams, I need to spend a lot of time studying, which I do not need to do for SBEs.”

For teachers, SBEs are usually just considered a larger and more impactful summative, but for this semester, the possibility of online school also added unpredictability to the SBEs.

“Because we didn’t know if we were going to be online for several days with the increasing COVID-19 cases, I had to alter some aspects of my tests,” Alexander Weir, HS math teacher, said. “I’ve been assigning SBEs for several years, and students should not stress over them. If they get lots of sleep and stay well hydrated, most will do well.”