Examination – A necessary evil?

Posted on May 25, 2010 in Education

Siddhi Bahadkar:

Very often examinations have been described as a necessary evil. Such a paradoxical definition conveys the impression that, although examinations are not a very good means of judging the potential of the students, they perhaps are, the only way of doing so. Infact, examinations have become such an integral part of today’s academic system that it is very difficult to imagine what schools or colleges would be without them.

On one hand, if there were no examinations it would spell unbridled freedom for students. Examinations, as they are today,  a terrible burden on the students’ shoulders. Without them students are jubilant. As it was in the past (and is slowly emerging now), everyone would take to a trade of their own choice or interest. They would learn more as apprentices. Their education would be first-hand and more practical. The only way to prove their worth would be actual performance in the field chosen.

Modern knowledge in various fields is highly advanced. Could we, however, manage without examinations today? Mere learning of a trade is not enough. There are many fields, especially in pure social sciences, which cannot be understood by merely practical work or apprenticeship. Theoretical knowledge is a must and for this one has to turn to books. How much one has been able to glean from books can only be tested by an oral or written test. In order to ascertain how much one knows about the complex subjects examinations are a necessity. Today’s classrooms have nothing short of 50 to 70 students on an average and as such individual testing becomes quite difficult.

However, I am quite sure that no student would shed a tear if examinations are done away with completely. The reasons for their abhorrence of examinations are not far to seek. The entire career and future of a student depends on his or her performance in the examination. If a student takes ill or the paper is tough, or the assessment is strict, it is the student who suffers. In the Board Examination held at the end of the year, the examiner has no idea of the student’s performance during the year. The answer book before him is the only criteria by which he can grant marks to the students who merely learn what they have to by rote, with very little understanding. Not much of what they learn remains with them for life.

One thing is quite sure though, if there were no examinations students would not bother to study at all. It would be very difficult to differentiate between the good and the average, the brilliant ones and the lesser good ones. Talent will not be recognized and the genius will be suppressed for the want of recognition.

What remains is that the examination system should be finally tuned and pruned, to give away to an effective and more objective means of estimating the value of a student’s knowledge and ability. The sooner this is done the better it will be for the cause education.

The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.

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