The Plummet of Motivation in the Face of Testing During the Pandemic

Image of a girl sleeping on desk taken from an article from

AnnaBella McGinnis, Reporter

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. has seen a sharp increase in depression amongst it’s population. In an article posted by, they report “27.8% of adults reported depression symptoms, in contrast with 8.5% before the pandemic. Increases were higher across the spectrum of depression severity, from mild (24.6% vs 16.2% before the pandemic) to severe (5.1% vs 0.7%)”. Of course, adults are not the only ones faced with these challenges. As testing season rolls around, teenagers must overcome their own struggles with depression and lack of motivation to pass their tests by the bare minimum.

OCSA has a total of 974 students, both high school and middle school students. Out of this total, 374 are currently in digital school while the other 600 are in person. Out of 568 high school students total that are enrolled at OCSA, 33 of these students (both in-person and face-to-face) participated in a limited survey to discuss their level of motivation in the 2020-2021 school year. While many other students may not had access to the survey, it is also possible that many who did have access may not have felt the motivation to even take it. The survey focused on the student’s emotional ability to maintain a C average in their class(es) and pass their upcoming exam(s) this coming march. All responses are anonymous.

When given the following question, “If you are a FACE TO FACE student, between last school year and this school year, have you noticed a change in your motivation to turn in assignments on time, get good grades (anything above C), and/or pass end of year exams such as EOCs, SAT, AP Exams, FSAs, etc. Please explain why or why not? If you are not Face to Face, type N/A”, many responses showed the same patterns of exhaustion.

“I feel like if I let myself slip by not turning in assignments I’ll only go downhill from here. Last year I had zero motivation to do anything, but now that I’ve lost the “normal” senior year I just want to go out swinging,” and “this year I procrastinated a lot more and had little to no motivation throughout the whole year.” Note that not all of the responses received depicted negative emotions, as some students have felt an increase in their motivation. The majority, however, have shown signs of the former.

The same question was asked for digital students specifically, in which displayed the same feelings (some even more strongly then those in face-to-face). With responses such as, “Yes. I’d say its due to the fact that I’m hardly learning anything. It makes you feel dumb and then you close yourself of the the thought of trying something and failing. Plus since were home its like my brain tells me that it can wait for later. That I can do it tomorrow, and still get a grade. But when it comes to the exams I feel pressured to pass which cause more stress, and less time actually doing assignments and just cramming for finals” and “Honestly, I am starting to lose motivation. I feel like as we continue to come to the end of the school year the teachers are feeling rushed and so they cram all of this information all at once.”

Polls were also taken between a scale of one through ten to determine where the survey takers would rank their confidence to pass their classes and their tests (AP and normal classes separately). On the poll asking if students who took AP where they would rank their confidence to past their exams, out of 13 responses, the average number sits at 5.46. When asked the same question about their class, the number shot up at 8.38.

The same questions were asked for students and their normal exams/classes. With 30 responses, the former has an average of 6.63 while the latter has 8.03. Given the limited amount of results presented, there is no denying the stark difference between how people feel in their classes versus their upcoming exams.

Testing administrator of OCSA, Jay Vedder, was interviewed on his feelings towards the results of the surveys. He says, “I can tell first hand that the students here are feeling burnt out from last year, and it was especially difficult for those who had to the EOA and the Algebra test since they were graduation requirements.” Mr. Vedder continued on with, “I even wrote to the state to try and make it so these group of students wouldn’t have to take those tests at the beginning of this year because many of them may not remember the material and feel less focused to pass those tests.”  When asked about how he feels the overall test scores will look like this year, he explained, “I think they will be somewhat lower then previous years, and it makes sense, so many of them are feeling burnt out, including myself actually.” With a sympathetic point of view, Mr. Vedder made it a point for those who are currently struggling with their classwork and focus for testing to do their best. “If you’re face to face, we offer tutoring after school and welcome anybody who needs it. If you’re digital, I would recommend to try your best (if possible) to put yourself in the best environment possible to focus and feel like you are, in some way, face to face.”