Opinion: Why as a student I find exams so meaningless

Written By: Urvi Kochhar
New Delhi, Delhi, India Updated: Feb 12, 2018, 11:56 AM(IST)

Students call the new UGC regulations ?irrational, unreasonable and arbitrary?. Photograph:( AFP )

How many days until your next exam?

With only a week left, students can be seen engrossed in heavy books with small fonts that until a few days were stuffed in the darkest corners of cupboards. Why is it only when one is dealt with a ‘deadly test’, do they care to flip through the pages of their books?

The phrase ‘we do something only when we need to’ applies to most areas in life, but, lately, it has gripped the education system as well. In my opinion, the education system when summed up would sound like Cram, Memorize and Forget.

Delving deep into this problem, there is a need to understand whether the students are at fault or the age-old system of teaching we follow?

Most people have a very strategical approach of preparing for an examination. The preparation starts with overdosing on coffee a couple of days in advance, followed by aimlessly highlighting any word that sounds fancy enough. Finally, when everything else fails, submitting to the master of all books, ‘the 10 years’ - a comprehensive encapsulation of the previous papers.

Now, why does this happen?

Whenever a student is told that at the end of the year, they will be tested on the knowledge they have gained that year, it certainly doesn’t refer to the student’s ability to decipher complex questions and problems they might face in real-life situations. Instead, they are made to believe that intelligence stems from how well one mugs up the contents of a textbook. There are no questions asked in the exams which require out-of-the-box thinking, but rather are focused on answers found in the suggested readings. 

What does this tell us?

Well naturally, if exam questions are focused largely on the contents of a book, it would be disingenuous to refer to the education system as anything other than a ‘memory test’. As a new year passes, a new textbook is brought into the fold and the approach becomes more focused.

The student who scores the highest grade in an exam is not the one who best understands what (s)he is learning, but rather the one who is able to effectively memorize the contents in the textbook.

This is especially problematic as we are unintentionally indicating that although there may be alternate ways to answer a question, the marks ultimately depend on what is printed in the textbook, restricting their thought process. When someone spends the vast majority of their youth being a sponge and absorbing as many words as they possibly can, only to discover one day that their merit for a job is judged by a 2-3 page resume, they are bound to grow disillusioned and question the very system imposed upon them.


(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)  

Urvi Kochhar

Urvi Kochhar is a B.Com (Hons) student at Lady Shri Ram College for Women. She believes in creating a better world with greater opportunities for the less privileged.
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