“The Pleasure and Pain of examinations”- 26 March 2017

Ritu would come home joyous from the examinations. Her parents knowing her, yet, would ask her as to how the exam went, even as they knew the answer. Many times her parents even forgot that she had examinations for she went about her work in a routine manner without fuss and anxiety. She did not remind them either and her parents would be surprised that they were over! They did not realise that it was her exam time for she was a regular student who enjoyed her books and her studies. She was a disciplined child and followed a routine unless she was ill. The reverse was true for her elder sister Shama who felt very anxious about exams and almost fell ill each time the D day arrived! She would suffer stomach aches, nausea, would stop eating food and went on liquid diet. She had to be fed specific diet on exams. She was a regular student too and quite sincere with her work but temperamentally anxious and of average intelligence in academics. She was not prone to hard work and preferred outdoor games and sports to books.

A sports person practices for months and prepares herself for the competition to prove her-self and to win of course. If she does not win a game, she evaluates her performance with the help of her coach, prepares in a better manner for the next one. She however looks forward to the competition for she is raring to go and prove her mettle. She feels a sense of happiness and pleasure in her state of readiness to deliver the final punch. Competing is a pleasant task for it is the culmination of your hard work and practice. After months of practice if a sports person does not compete there is a sense of frustration and incompleteness. Likewise for school or college examinations, which can be taken as a final competition for the years work, students should be looking forward to finishing it off with aplomb. When do examinations become a pain? Everyone knows the routine/standard answer, such as, lack of discipline, hard work and regularity. But there is another aspect to it which needs to be understood. The interest and the passion for the specific task are important for it leads to high motivation. When a sport is chosen of your interest and liking you enjoy the strokes and the time spent on the field. When it is an imposed task the motivation may go down. This can happen with school subjects that are compulsory in nature with no choice and although some subjects may become a pain, some may be a pleasure to the student. Students should try excelling in the ones they love and aim to pass fairly well in the ones they ‘just tolerate’. Many times the boredom and anxiety on a few boring subjects have a ‘spread over’ effect as it extends to all the subjects equally. This needs to identified and checked.

‘It is not easy to fail’, said my wise friend in school. ‘We study 365 days of the year and spend an enormous amount of time in classrooms, it is indeed a tough task to fail’! Students who fail must be really lazy, careless and in-disciplined to fail after studying for a full year of the same books. If a student is attending school and listening to the teacher and revising the lessons learnt the possibility of the fear of exams can be ruled out. All it requires is regularity, we might say simply. But it is at most times not so simple.

Parents and teachers alike create an alarm about examinations giving it a negative connotation. They put tremendous pressure on the kids in the name of exams demanding a spectacular performance in it. Instead of creating an alarm they should inculcate a positive value about examinations and encourage them to look forward to it in a healthy way. Many times the methodology of reading, revising, recalling and reflecting are not taught to students. The lessons are taught and homework is given which is not enough as the perfect methodology of studying well. Just like a sports coach who will teach the various strokes of playing the game well, the teacher too should teach the master strokes of performing well. They should encourage, motivate and coach the students with their weaknesses and strengths as well. We don’t want to care about how big or small the class is, whether there are thirty or sixty students is not the fault of the students. They need to be coached in their specific areas of concern by teachers alike.


We are relieved that the experiment of ‘continuous comprehensive evaluation’ (CCE) had been discontinued for we all knew that ‘the no-fail policy’ had failed. It failed to evaluate a child’s performance properly and even if we assume that it did, it did not follow it up with the remedial inputs. The habits of good study practices have to begin as early as six years of age when the child goes to the first Std. We have to begin early if we are to discipline and inculcate good habits of studying and performing in exams. We should not wait for the final examinations and then create a terror about it. That is when it becomes a pain. So beginning early, evaluating and coaching, teaching the methodology of studying and creating a positive value about examinations, will make it a pleasure- something to look forward to. This is when true education creates excellence in mind and spirit.

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