Earlier in Forum







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

This is the fifth instalment of readersí response

Keep the system, refine the process

The need to reform the examination system appears to have surfaced of late due to certain misconception about some features of the system.

One of the reasons is that some of us have started seeing in these examinations the cause of studentsí high stress level.

An examination constitutes a device allowing topics of a reading programme or syllabus to be examined for measuring academic achievement of students. Besides the annual system, the other common modes of examination are the semester and trimester tests.

Some institutions have gone modular in their examinations. The effectiveness of internal tests administered monthly or weekly depends upon the age group and maturity level of students. There is a time for every kind of experience in life.

The conceived mechanism of replacing annual examinations with monthly tests is feasible only up to the primary level. As children grow on, we should prepare them for tougher challenges and coping with stress. This is the time when suffering is not keenly felt and good testing would lessen their stress later in adulthood. The cushy and soft lifestyle adopted by students takes away their attention from studies. Academic excellence is possible only through tapasya. Any exercise to arrive at a model system with one common pattern would prove futile. Teachers, students and managers of schools are equally responsible for making the examination system a success.

Mani Majra



There is no need to reform this examination system, if the teachers are prepared to teach well and cover the entire syllabus, and if they make sure that every student has understood what has been taught in class. This would stop incidents of mass copying at the time of examinations.

If a student is unable to understand a subject, his or her teacher should be held responsible for this. The quality of teaching in all educational institutions should be inspected regularly and parents should be informed well in time if students are not responding to any teaching method. When parents take up a complaint against a teacher, all teachers in the school then persecute their children. The teacher who gets to be the target of their complaint looks upon these children with vengeance. This type of behaviour from teachers should not be condoned. Prejudice should not prevail.

Yog Raj Gupta,
VPO Saryanj (Solan)

Donít test their patience

Farishtey bhi cheekh utthen ru-ba-ru-e-imtihan,

Ye insaan hi hai ho diye jata hai imtehan pe imtehan

The form of examination today is that prior notice is given regarding the date and the programme of examinations. Many students curse the schedule and many develop anxiety. They now give longer hours to studies and even burn the midnight oil. The pressure of solving a whole lot of questions in a limited number of hours is unbearable at times.

This entire ordeal seems to get over quickly, as we find that the results seem to take ages to be declared. Students should rather be made to undergo a series of practical tests, weekly tests, and objective-type/subjective-type tests, and be counselled to take examinations in the right spirit.

Despite the evil nature of examinations, we are bound to go along with these because we do not yet have an effective alternative. However, we have no real test to measure original and critical thinking.

Suber Singh Parihar, Baloo (Chamba)

Hold only one CET

In the present scenario, the examination system has become useless. There are infinite loopholes in the existing system. Lakhs of students appear in various examinations and entrance tests and most of these students aspire for success through short-cut methods. Only about 10 per cent students use unfair means in examinations, but their actions affect the whole student community.

Cramming gets encouraged due to the faulty examination system. Three hours for examination are not enough. A large number of students every year are dissatisfied with their results. What happened at a technical university in the state is clear example. A sea change was seen in the revised result.

After evaluation, students should be given grades, which would decrease the suicide trend among students. Universities should lessen the re-evaluation fee by up to 50 per cent, as this would help the poor students.

There should be only one common test for admission to all medical, engineering, teaching or other courses. This test should be conducted on all-India level. The states should prepare their merit lists on the basis of the results of this test. This will avoid the unnecessary suffering that the parents and their wards have to undergo. This will also lessen the expenditure on education. Consequently, only the deserving, meritorious and bright students belonging to all sections of society will get their due.



Let students see marked answer books

The examinations today dictate the curriculum, instead of following it. The system prevents any innovation, hampers the development of sound methods of teaching, fosters a dull uniformity rather than originality, encourages the average pupil to concentrate too rigidly upon too narrow a field and makes him or her develop wrong notions concerning education.

What is needed is a continuous assessment and evaluation of students throughout the year. A student should be evaluated for his or her classroom behaviour, regularity, regular assignments and extra-curricular activities. Of course, the teachers would then have to work more, which they should.

There should be monthly tests, both objective as well as subjective. For subjective papers, there should be two examiners. This will encourage objective relative assessment of students. All students should be allowed access to their evaluated answer books. This will definitely improve the classroom culture and seriousness will become a habit with the young scholars.



Follow the law of nature

Only through freedom can a child attain his or her fullness of growth and when we restrict him, we break the law of nature. The system of examination should be like the law of nature. The examination system should be divided into three parts (as the subject would require): project making in groups (judging through participation); excursion and study tours (judging through reports and viva voce); and expression of good and bad experiences during the session (judging through viva voce).

The evaluation of the above parameters should follow the grading system and it should be implemented class VI onwards. This would also need sizable reforms in textbooks. The key to changing the examination system, however, will still be in the hands of sleeping schoolmasters.



Identify problem sets

The paper setter should allocate 50 per cent of the marks to objective-type problems and the rest to essay-type questions. The ability to set the right questions is a question of intelligence and better experience in that field.

Thirty-three per cent of the question paper should have problems that allow the usual "third divisioners" to pass; another 33 per cent of the problems should be there to allow the usual "second divisioners" to get through, and the rest for problems should be for the bright students to show their talent and level of preparation.

Superintendents and invigilators of excellence and integrity, who would disallow the use of unfair means, should conduct examinations. Sub-examiners and the other staff should have an insight into the subject and have the examinersí ability to comprehend all matter related to it. The tabulation of results demands even more honesty, justice and fair play to give an accurate picture of the ability of the candidates.



Entrance tests have lost credibility

We should see whether or not in the present scenario, there is need at all for entrance tests. It is better to gauge the capability of students on the basis of five papers of three hours each at the plus-two level, instead of having only one paper of three hours.

Entrance tests are conducted even when the number of seats is more than the number of applicants. Arenít these tests then conducted just to collect money by charging exorbitantly for prospectus, examination and counselling?

It seems that mafia is being allowed to rule the education system of the country. Entrance tests are merely ploys to exploit parents and hold no justification. The IIT-JEE alone is a business of more than Rs 10,000 crore.

The credibility of these tests is also under question now, after examination-related scams in the universities of Sirsa, Jalandhar and Amritsar.

Where is the need for these tests when admission can easily be made by securing merit in the class XII examinations, which can be prepared with the help of statistical analysis, keeping in mind different boards and their different syllabi.

It is painful that the Punjab Government refuses to wake up even when the Tamil Nadu Government has already sensed the problem and scrapped all entrance tests.



Limit the number of invigilators

The examination system in our country has almost collapsed. There have been complaints on a large scale regarding leaking of question papers. What to talk of pass-course examinations, even the sensitive PMT, CET and CAT have not been spared.

To improve the system, only the required officials should be deputed inside the examination centres. Not even a single employee whose presence is not required should be allowed to enter the area where a test is under progress.

There should be a foolproof security in the press where confidential printing work is on. It would be the responsibility of the printer to hire security men.

Erring officials should be severely punished at the earliest. After all, donít deserving students suffer when question papers are leaked. Justice should be the same for everyone.



Donít judge yearís work in 3 hrs

At present, the common way of judging how much the learner has gained is this age-old system of examination at the end of the term year. Just in three hours or so, we try to evaluate how much the learner has gained over the year. Detractors of the examination system forward such arguments.

Surely we cannot go in for yearlong internal assessment because even that is full of shortcomings and pitfalls. What we require instead is honest and dedicated teachers, who would take no shortcuts. Then, we may follow any new system or this age-old system of terminal examinations; we will always produce better young men and women. At present, even the ward of a VC will not hesitate to cheat, if he or she gets a chance.

Prof P. K. GUPTA,


Switch to school-wise merit

Not Godís gift, professional knowledge is gained through mind tools and the sweat shed in schools and colleges and is hard to pilfer, unlike the question papers for our most prestigious tests like those for entering the Civil Services, IITs, medical colleges etc. Through money power, dullards enter the system at the cost of poor, but brilliant students. Remedy lies in switching over to school-wise merit list for selection, where every student knows each otherís ability, which makes manipulation difficult.

Amongst the prevalent examinations system (objective-type questions, subjective-type questions, open-book system), the first is more prone to manipulation, needing prompt stoppage.

"Not Godís gift, poetry flows through the barrel of knowledge gained by 500 books," Said Kaifi Azmi, the peopleís poet. Poet "Zulfi" could not become Iqbal through wealth, yet acquired premiership of a big country. British medieval eraís Pretender of Crown accepted cookís job in the royal kitchen. Sifarishi sportsmen have deprived this nation of one billion from winning even one gold medal at the Olympics.



Ask nothing that can be crammed

Examination, like friction, is a necessary evil, as it has both advantages and disadvantages. The capability and intelligence of an individual can be testified only through examination. On the other hand, it affects badly the mental and physical health of students, particularly of the science stream, who study whole year to cover their lengthy syllabus. Almost all books are bulky. Apart from regular classes in schools and colleges, students are forced to join tuitions classes.

A student is then given only three hours in the examination hall to express all that he or she studied throughout the year. This offer confuses the students and causes tension.

Everyone is afraid of examinations, even the gurus and saints. The semester system of examination should be introduced in schools, colleges and professional courses. This will at least lessen the burden of students, who will then attend classes more regularly. The paper should be set only from the prescribed NCERT books. The pattern of the paper should be such that application-based problems could be asked. There should no definitions, statements or long derivations, for which students would have to cram. Reasoning should instead be promoted.

Guru Tegh Bahadar Garh, (Moga)


Judge special kids differently

The education system requires an overhaul. The aim of education is not to stuff the brain with bookish knowledge, but to improve the character and personality of each student. Question papers should be framed so that the test covers the entire syllabus, which would discourage guesswork and cramming.

Sessionís work in class should be assessed regularly and the marks obtained during the various term tests the year round should go towards making of the final grade.

Teachers should adjudge differently children with special needs, children with super intelligence and children with below-average intelligence. The performance of teachers should also be measured at different junctures during the course. Any changes to be made in the examination system should make it more reliable, objective and valid.



Boards should follow one pattern

The education system is responsible for the examination-related mess. The Constitution provides that compulsory education be given to children between the age of 5 and 14, but crores of students can neither read nor write. Our education system is defective because education for the rich and the poor, the urban and the rural, is different. The rich and the urban students get the maximum benefit.

There are number of boards of education (such as CBSE, ICSE and state boards). The study of each board is different from the other and it only gets the students more confused. The examination system is bound to be defective.

The papers get leaked frequently for even tests such as the PMET and the CET, and money is exchanged openly during tests. Teaching shops are behind such action.

The assessment should be based on the whole yearís performance in school. There should also be more accurate tests of practical knowledge. The trend of giving more than 95 per cent marks is gives rise to suicides among the "less fortunate". The pattern should be changed by awarding grades instead of marks.



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