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By the time July rolls around, Japanese students are really looking forward to summer vacation. But before school ends, middle and high-school students have to do something they're not looking forward to. They have to take their final exams. These exams are harder than midterm exams, because they test the students on everything they have learned so far during the school term.
While students are taking their midterm exams and final exams, no regular classes are held. This is a concentrated period of test-taking. The students have to take tests in several different subjects.
Elementary-school students don't have to take midterms or final exams. It's not until seventh grade that students have to start worrying about them.
The students take their midterm exams at the end of May. Since the finals are given in July, that means the students only have a month and a half between midterms and final exams.
Usually, students take midterm exams in five subjects: English, math, Japanese, science, and social studies. During final exams, the students are tested on those five subjects, plus four more: health and physical fitness, home economics, music, and art. While midterm exams go on for two days, final exams last three days. For a week before both midterms and finals, school club meetings and other after-school activities are canceled. Students are also not allowed in the teacher's workroom or the copying room.
For students, there is one very big difference between midterms and finals. About two weeks after finals are over, school ends and the students are free for the summer. For those two weeks between the end of finals and the beginning of summer vacation, the students probably have trouble concentrating on their classes, looking forward to all the fun of the coming summer.