Terror of Exams

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Examination, in lay man’s terms, means “Memory Check”. Unfortunately, the question we as students are confronted with is “kitna yaad kiya hai.” This statement undermines the real essence of exams and exposes the many flaws of this system. When one tries to cram up as much as possible, hurriedly and nervously at the last minute, one’s brain becomes saturated with a lot of facts but little to no knowledge. The days before this ordeal take place are spent cramming all sorts of formulae and hardly understandable theories. Even mathematics, which is a statistical subject, is not spared. Health is neglected, sleep is sacrificed and food is forgotten just to cram a little more so that one can score a little higher. Thus students begin to lose their health gradually. Some even avoid social obligations. I have a friend who shaved his head just so that he could resist his desire to go out and meet his friends. 

At last, the dreaded hour arrives. You are only confident if you feel prepared, which of course you never do before an examination. Also, being able to determine the right answers through all the heaps of crammed stuff in your brain is a task in itself. It is most perplexing and exasperating that just at the moment when you need your memory the most, it decides to sprout wings and take flight. You are left staring at the question paper, trying to make some sense of it. 

Consider a history exam in which you are asked to give a  brief account of Kota Rani. Kota Rani? Who was she and what did she do? The name seems strangely familiar. You ransack your limited quota of historical facts much like you would hunt for a bit of silk in a rag-bag. You are sure it is somewhere in your mind, you saw it there the other day when you were looking up the beginning of Islam in Kashmir. But where is it now? You fish out all the knowledge – revolutions, massacres, system of government in your mind but Kota Rani manages to hide quite well. You are amazed at all the things you know  but unfortunately, they aren’t in the examination paper. Your eyes, while wandering around, fall on the ticking clock and in desperation, you start pouring out all you ever read about history on to the paper. The brooding invigilator stands in the corner, ready to rip your answer sheet apart if you try to ask your best friend for help. 

Just as you finally recall the right answer and quickly start jotting it down, hardly caring if your scrawl is legible, the invigilator informs you that the time is up. With a feeling of intense disgust, you leave the script full of rubbish on the desk and go home, your head full of revolutionary schemes to abolish the divine right of subject experts to ask questions without the consent of the questioned. 

Helen Keller writes, “Knowledge is power. Rather, knowledge is happiness, because to have knowledge – broad, deep knowledge – is to know true ends from false, and lofty things from low. To know the thoughts and deeds that have marked man’s progress is to feel the great heart-throbs of humanity through the centuries; and if one does not feel in these pulsations a heavenward striving, one must indeed be deaf to the harmonies of life.” Even this great personality criticises the way exams are conducted. Exams unleash horror on the student’s mind. Let’s overhaul and extract the real essence out of exams so that it doesn’t remain merely a memory game but shows off everyone’s unique potential.

 

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