Earlier in Forum







Q: What should be done to reform the
examination system?

This is the third instalment of readers’ response

It’s a question of setting the right paper

One of the main challenges is setting questions for the test. Many a times, senior members of the faculty set the papers, despite not being in touch with the latest curriculum. The time given to set the question paper is so short that vague and irrelevant questions are set. Standards for forming question banks can be set, for which high-level experts need to work all year.

To distribute the questions equitably and to ensure that students do not skip reading any part of syllabus, the question paper should be divided into units and questions should be based on every unit of the syllabus.

Teachers can also be invited to suggest questions directly or through seminars. Experts should ensure unanimity of standard. The question banks should be revised every year.

Internal assessment has many drawbacks. Generally, teachers are lenient in awarding marks to their own students. These marks should be shown separately on report cards.

Dummy roll numbers should be put on the answer sheets before the checking begins. This will ensure transparency in evaluation.



Paper setting is erratic, evaluation is bad and compilation of results is inaccurate. Most of the students’ woes will be taken care of if these aspects of the examination system are improved.

The paper that is set should strictly stick to the syllabus. Evaluators need not be lenient, but they should not be stiff either. The computer guys compiling the results should be a little more serious towards their work. Defaulters should not be let off easily. Nobody, least of all the examiners, should be allowed to play with the career of any student.

— Wg-Cdr C. L. SEHGAL (retd), Jalandhar

Teach better in primary classes

There is only one great fault in the examination system and it is in the training given to students. Most of the teachers lack the guiding skills that are essential for developing natural intelligence among students.

A normal child is born with a healthy brain. It is the duty of both parents and teachers to groom the child and channelise his or her brainpower in the right direction. However, no sincere effort is made to measure the real intelligence of children in junior classes.

No attention is paid to individuals to ensure their proper growth. Most of the students are declared pass in non-board classes, which keeps parents in the dark till their wards have to face their first competitive examination. The poor performance shown by students in board examinations later puts a question mark on the teaching skills and the examination system, too.

— USHA TANEJA, Fatehabad

Lay more stress on quality

Students should be allotted more time to attempt the question paper. Teachers should lay more stress on quality rather than on quantity, while evaluating answer sheets. If a student fails to appear in an examination due to bad health or some other genuine reason, average marks should be given in that particular subject by evaluating his or her performance in other subjects. Examinations should be conducted every six months.


Give grades

The routine annual examinations should be dispensed with. Instead, a grading pattern should be adopted. Students should be promoted to the next class on the basis of general assessment and critical examination of everyday performance in class and outside. This would eradicate examination-related malpractices.

Students should be awarded A, B, C and D grades, and each grade should be conferred on one fourth of the class. These grades would be equivalent to the percentages of 85, 70, 55 and 40, respectively.

If a teacher tries to award someone a grade higher than deserved, he or she will have to simultaneously bring a student from a higher grade to a lower grade, as one particular grade can be offered to only a fixed number of students (25 per cent).

If a particular grade is offered to a group of students, it is no measure of the true talent within the same grade, but it offers a good range, which when labelled as a particular grade, determines the market value of candidates.


Take steps to curb corruption

A number of universities and school boards have made numerous efforts to improve the examination system from time to time, but their efforts have not yielded satisfactory results, so far. Paper leaks, cancellation of examinations and re-evaluation of papers are a routine.

The examination is a tool to judge student’s ability. But, what is the use of this exercise when even a peon, driver or a superintendent can easily lay hands on the paper before the examination? Our examination system can be reformed, if we make sincere efforts to curb corruption, which has given birth to all education-related evils.

— Dr VISHAL GOYAL, Sangrur

Computerise all wings of education

All government agencies have an outdated administrative system, which has been showing cracks for the past few decades. The ministry dealing with education is no exception. To improve the system, all education-related departments should be computerised.

Examinations should best be conducted by having multiple-choice questions. The question as well as the answer should be fed in the computer and students should take the examination in batches. The next batch should be given a different set of questions, and so on.

The result should be ready by the time a student finishes writing the test. In this paperless system, there is a very little scope for manipulation. Only private agencies should be given the task of conducting examinations.

— H. S. PURI, Santa Clara, CA (USA)

Deal firmly with teaching shops

The frequent leaking of question papers of prestigious tests like the Civil Services Examination, IIT-JEE and PMT have put a big question mark on the fabric of secrecy and transparency of the examination system.

The recent PMT paper leak in Punjab is another example of corrupt individuals gaining access to the so-called foolproof system through money power, while the poor brilliant aspirants are left out.

Such immoral acts have encouraged a pernicious system of teaching shops or coaching centres. Some of these centres give full guarantee of success on the basis of their access to the test paper, as evident from the recent PMT paper leak case.

The government should deal with such centres firmly. Also, there is a need to use the latest technology to ensure tamper-proof examination system.

— RAJESH SHARMA, Jalandhar Cantonment

Act tough with erring officials

The examination system has deteriorated to such an extent that students feel jittery as soon as they are asked to take examinations, especially the competitive ones. They reach the examination centre anxious that the hard labour they had put in might go waste. One can imagine their state of mind as they exit the examination centre to learn that the paper has been leaked.

The authorities concerned should ensure that the setting of question papers, printing, binding and distribution remain a secret. A body of proven integrity should be formed for this purpose. There is no dearth of honest officials in educational institutes. Any official or teacher found involved in the leaking of question papers should be given severe punishment.

Invigilation during examinations should be strict and students found using unfair means should be debarred for life. To achieve this, the authorities require a strong support from the government and the public.


Cross online tests with open-book system

Had the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences acted sensibly on the information provided by this newspaper well before the test, it could have saved itself from the embarrassment it later faced. No one except the parents and students can feel the anguish and the pain of this failure of the examination system.

Policy makers and officials concerned don’t bother much about the plight of hardworking students because there is no accountability. Online examinations crossed with the open-book system of examination seem to offer the right answer. The test is online and the student is allowed to take help from books, but the examination is conducted in a way that the student is not able to complete his paper in the allotted time, if he or she has not prepared well for it.

The drawback of this system is that the format and content of the paper can be disclosed. Above all, in India, offering online facility to millions of students is a difficult task.

— Dr VITULL K. GUPTA, Bathinda

Let teaching dominate exams

The greatest ill from which the system of examination in India suffers is that our teaching is subordinated to examinations and not our examinations to teaching. The examination today dictates the curriculum instead of the vice versa.

It prevents any innovation or development of teaching methods. It fosters a dull uniformity and encourages the average pupil to concentrate too rigidly on too narrow a field. The child develops wrong notions concerning education.

External examinations restrict the field of knowledge to the extent of nullifying its real purpose. We need continuous assessment and evaluation of the student throughout the year.

A student should be evaluated for its classroom behaviour, regularity, regular assignments and extra-curricular activities. Of course, teachers would then have to work more, which they should.

All students should be allowed to see their evaluated answer books. This will definitely improve the classroom culture.

— S. P. DHAWAN, Chandigarh

Stop exams till middle standard

The old gurukul system was the best way to teach. There were no examinations or leaking of papers like today; but since the old system is not applicable now, for job-oriented education is prevalent today, we need to reform the given system.

Stop primary and middle-standard examinations by any board. Introduce objective-type question papers for other tests. Increase the number of questions up to 200. Maintain a proper gap among the examinees. Take the services of retired teachers in conducting examinations and setting question papers.

Punish strictly the staff and the examinees, if they indulge in malpractices. Give magisterial powers and security to the checking staff. Handle carefully the printing of papers, packing and despatch. Use cameras for surveillance inside the examination halls.

— ZORA SINGH, Muktsar

Manage examiners professionally

The examination system is fair, but its implementation requires more fairness. The people at the helm of affairs need to rejuvenate their energies to give us a successful system. The task force for examinations should have high moral values. Evaluation should be free of prejudice.

Requisite skill and acumen should be inculcated in the team that is engaged for conducting examinations. This team should be managed professionally.

The aim of the examinations should be to separate the grain from the chaff. If the wood is crooked, the furniture can’t stand, so the thrust lies upon the implementers for the system to work.

— BHARAT, Karnal

Don’t blame the binder

Let us admit that sincerity and devotion to duty are long forgotten, so we should regard the human factor controlling examinations as uncontrollable and make execution foolproof.

The Vice-Chancellor of any university should call five educationists separately and get handwritten question papers prepared. On the day of the examination, out of the above set of five question papers, the VC should himself read out only one question paper on a particular TV channel and candidates should note it down. For any pilferage of the question paper, only the VC should be held responsible.

It is funny to blame the binder, driver and peon for as big a lapse as leaking of a paper, or the university did not have any one below that rank.

— G. S. DHARIWALA, Badhni Gulab Singh (Ferozepore)

Enforcement at fault, not the system

The examination system is okay, but its faulty enforcement makes it susceptible to leaking of papers, mass copying and irregular marking of answer sheets, which shatters the confidence of genuine scholars.

Reforms ought to be introduced in the conduct of the examinations so that no question paper is ever leaked. More flying squads equipped with more powers should be constituted and they should be authorised to use these powers on the spot in case any irregularity is noticed.

Stringent action should be taken in cases of leaking of question papers and deterrent punishment should be awarded to the erring candidates, invigilators and markers, so that everyone takes examinations more seriously. Only then can the sanctity of examinations be resorted.


Re-evaluation should be from scratch

Examinations are tests only of the head and not of the hands or the heart. Degrees are given more importance than needed. A higher degree does not mean that you have any real knowledge. Use of unfair means in examinations is increasing. Students should be asked such questions which cannot be answered without a thorough knowledge of the subject.

Objective-type screening tests in otherwise traditional papers are proving to be more nuisance than a remedy, as dullards who can obtain stencils of the answer sheets can easily get through.

In case of re-evaluation of answer books, the marks awarded by the first examiner should be ignored. The answer script should be re-examined from scratch by a third evaluator at the same time and the candidate should be given marks that are the average of the result of the second and third evaluation.

Only one chance should be given to regular candidates placed under compartment in courses other than professional. Date of declaration of result should be mentioned clearly on the date sheet for examinations. Honest invigilators should be rewarded.

— Dr N. K. NAGPAL, Ladwa

Need to assess arts students

The Indian University Commission, 1902, painfully observed as follows: "It is beyond doubt that the greatest evil from which the system of Indian university education suffers is that teaching is subordinated to examination and not examination to teaching."

The first three universities in India were established in Calcutta, Madras and Bombay in 1857. The examination system has not changed since then. This is so deep-rooted that the changes proposed by different commissions/committees do not get the nod of the teaching community in particular and students in general.

Scientific methods should be used to evaluate students continuously. Nearly 60 per cent of the students in each college study humanities, but their employability after graduation is not even 1 per cent because we do not have a system to assess them continuously.

The marks awarded in internal assessment should be shown to students in the class. This will ensure active involvement of teachers in continuous evaluation.


Encourage practical knowledge

Progressive steps and better management can reform the examination system. Leaking of papers has become an alarming issue, which can be overcome by authoritative but reliable hands, who can comprehend the value of examination.

To evaluate one’s skill or knowledge, examinations overburden students with reading many sets of books for a limited text, which defies all logic. Instead of subjective-type examinations, we must adopt the objective-type examination pattern and prescribe one book for all subjects for a single course.

Students should be encouraged to acquire practical knowledge. In this way, mindless cramming of words can be reduced and the practical aspects of study will get promoted.

— ANJU ANAND, Chambaghat (Solan)

Give better pay, security to supervisors

The examination system is the backbone of our education system and the efficiency of this system is directly linked with how fair, transparent and foolproof are the tests. There should be no scope for leaks and favouritism at any stage. Stern action should be taken against those who encourage malpractices in examinations.

The supervisory staff for various examination centers should be from other districts and should be frequently rotated between various centres, to avoid any favouritism and collusion. Officials of the state administration should be asked to lead the flying squads. Remuneration given to the staff conducting the examination should be sufficient and prompt, so that they do not fall prey to bribes. Full security should be given to the supervisory staff at the examination centres.


Refit exams into education system

Education and examinations are inseparable. However, it’s the examination, and not the education, which has now become a tool for securing a career. The examination system should fit into the education system. There cannot be any examination, if there is no education.

Education has a significant role in building up the young generation. Foul play and favouritism have no role in this. Education is the source for the natural progress of the young minds. The present examination system lacks substance, so it has turned into being formal and unnatural.

It forces the real talent to remain dormant, if it does not conform to the present-day needs of human resource development. In this globalised world, only a sound examination system can prepare the young generation for handling the new successes, competition and challenges.

The youth today are paradoxically hostile to the prevalent conditions and change at the same time. For their better future, they should learn to live in the real world.

— DAYANAND, Charkhi Dadri, (Bhiwani)

Abolish entrance tests

Entrance tests are mere formalities now, as these are deliberately designed to generate more revenue. However, there are still glimpses of hope, which have been shown by the universities of Tamil Nadu. These institutions have finally realised the futility of entrance tests and replaced this system with recruiting students on the basis of merit.

This policy should be adopted by all other states. It will force the universities to "sacrifice" their additional income from the entrance tests and lead to the closure of innumerable coaching centres. Students and their parents will heave a sigh of relief, as their hard-earned money won’t be wasted on tutorials, counseling sessions and mock tests etc.

The policy of merit-based admission can be applied easily, as there are many cases where the number of applicants is less than the available seats.`A0For instance, there were only 10,000 applicants for the 13,000 seats of the Punjab CET. Moreover, with the increase in the number of professional courses, students now have more options.

— Kuriakose V.K., Abohar

Three hours are too less to judge

Evaluation in just three hours, hallmark of the present examination system, focuses only on the retention capability of the students. Those who are not able to cram either sink into a depression or commit suicide. Only sound education policies will ensure a vibrant human resource.

Instead of rote learning, open-book system should be tried and objective-type tests should be adopted. A perfect examination system would be the one that is able to maintain the goal of education, which is overall development of the child (physical, mental, spiritual and creative). Stress should be on research and practical, fieldwork, seminar, presentation etc. Rules should be framed to eliminate bias. Reforms can’t come in a corrupt society, so we have to look at the conditions we are trying to improve. Moral education is the need of the hour.


Clerks can’t be invigilators

Today, there is a rat race among students to join a professional course. To fulfil their dreams, they are even ready to use unfair means. Reforms won’t help our examination system, but a complete overhaul would. First, there should be a career-counselling cell in every school, so that student can take its help in making the right choice.

The examination system should be more transparent and the invigilators should be well educated. They should not take their duty as a burden and perform it honestly. In some cases, clerks and storekeepers of institutes where the examination center is situated are assigned the job of an invigilator. These practices should be stopped. We need a mass-movement in place of a single effort, if we want to raise the level of our examinations. Our media has already done a great job in highlighting its shortcomings. Students caught using unfair means should be strictly punished.

— ALKESH SHARMA, Chandigarh

Keep away teachers, parents

Examinations have become a farce, an annual ritual devoid of any purpose. These have been reduced to a sort of gamble with the future of millions of students at stake. The blatant use of unfair means during the recently concluded PMT examination is a grim reminder of the rot that has set in our examination system.

The scale of question-paper scam was unprecedented. Here, the whole system had gone haywire. Teachers are also to be blamed. Once guided by the missionary zeal, they are now driven by money. They eye revenue from tuitions and sincere classroom teaching has become a casualty.

Parents add to the stress that students undergo. Teachers and parents found loitering around the examination halls, passing chits, should be put behind bars. The process of testing should be a healthy one and it should not invoke fear in anyone’s mind.

— PRERNA JAIN, Ludhiana


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