Quadmestered vs Non-Semestered: Which One’s Better?


November 13, 2020

Ryan Vuscan


This unforeseen global pandemic looming over us has changed many things, such as the way we travel, the way we socialize, and most recently, the way we learn. Following a delayed school opening, students at North Toronto C.I. were met with a new high school system: quadmestered learning. Some praise this system, labelling it a step in the right direction. Others criticize it, arguing it hurts students set to graduate this year. Through analysis, we will find the benefits of quadmestered learning, non-semestered learning, and ultimately, which system North Toronto students prefer.

To begin with, quadmestered learning frees NT students from the grueling task of juggling up to eight courses at once. This newfound liberty minimizes mental burnout and leads to higher productivity. The logic is simple; allowing students to focus on two sole courses rather than eight gives them the ability to deeply invest themselves in their learning, instead of having to constantly switch their course prioritization and focus on a daily basis. Besides this, quadmestered learning allows for a healthier approach to writing exams. Although this specific school year differs due to the recent cancellation of exams, under normal circumstances, exams would have been scheduled every nine weeks, near the end of each quad; allowing for students to only tackle two exams at a time versus six or more.

On the other hand, non-semestered learning is said to be the safer, no risk, alternative. For starters, a non-semestered system prevents gambling for an evenly distributed schedule, and avoids the difficult repercussions students face if it isn’t. Many NT students were faced with the same demoralizing circumstance this year: having two notoriously hard courses in one quad, followed by an easy course and a spare in the other. Some even received a quad with two spares, resulting in 3 straight months completely devoid of school. It goes without saying that this unevenly distributed workload can lower one’s grades in the long-term. Furthermore, a non-semestered system offers a gradual learning process that promotes stability, especially to step-oriented courses such as physics and mathematics. Condensing ten months of material into two can be a burden on both teachers and students, as many find themselves struggling to keep up with the pace of quadmestered courses.

What might students in North Toronto think of this change? The answer only widens the divide: in an Instagram survey filled by 46 NT students, a 50/50 split was seen between those who preferred one system over the other. Many students vocalized their thoughts on this new system, one being high-achieving Grade 12 student, Thomas Zuliani, who said the following: “I think that courses like physics and calculus will suffer and see lower averages as they build upon previous material. Going forward though, I think it’s clear that this’ll affect [students’] university admissions; especially those trying to get into competitive programs.”

Many questions still remain unanswered: Will grades suffer or flourish? Will students see a worsened or improved work schedule? How might they adjust to this polarizing change? Unfortunately, only time will tell. Ultimately, both quadmestered and non-semestered have their clear benefits, with NT students evenly divided between their preference of the two school systems.