Tuesday morning, Okemos junior Kim Lohman will be among the first students ever to take the new Michigan Merit Exam, or MME.
"Everyone's a little nervous, everyone's stressing out," Lohman says.
And with good reason; the exam, which replaces the MEAP for juniors, now includes the ACT, an exam used in college applications. And it'll be followed by two time-limited state proficiency exams in areas like math, social studies, science and writing.
"Here in Okemos, it's going to take three straight days," says assistant principal Russ Verrell.
Verrell says replacing the MEAP with the new exam is challenging in part because this is the first time staff has had to teach to the ACT.
"It's a lot more added pressure, absolutely," he says. "There's a lot more in the balance."
Over at Sexton High School in Lansing, juniors will be taking the exam in an annexed area, so as not to be bothered during these very important few days.
"This year is very important because the school board passed a mandate that [the exam is] required to graduate," says Sexton counselor Kathy Hubbard. "Juniors need to participate in all three portions of the MME."
If that wasn't motivation enough, the state is now offering up $4,000 in tuition through the Michigan Promise Scholarship to those students who pass the MME.
But teachers complain the state has yet to provide a rubric on what a passing score even is.
"The students know there's pressure, but they don't know what it is yet, really," Hubbard says.
And to boot, MME results play a big part in Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP. If schools don't reach AYP, they face state sanctions.
But come Tuesday morning, juniors will be thinking of one thing as they take that test.
"I want to go to college," Lohman says, and these exams are just the first steps.