Stories about exam

Intermediate exams: My story of the invigilator who let us cheat

The credibility of the Pakistani education system is often under question. Religiously, every year various television channels air reports showing images and videos of students blatantly and fearlessly cheating in supposedly ‘prestigious’ board examinations. However, what worries me is that nothing comes out of it – the same practice occurs the next year too and then the year after. I am currently taking my HSSC-II exams under the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (FBISE). Although the FBISE board is considered to be better than other local boards, I recently experienced something that left me speechless. The exam centre allocated to me ...

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When Intermediate students must fight just to take their exams

On Tuesday morning around 10am, with the sun in its full glory and waves of hot air making it impossible to stand outside, I was in the court room of the Lahore High Court awaiting my turn. As I stood there, I noticed teenagers, around 16-17 years of age, standing in the court room looking baffled. I wondered what reason had brought them here as this was certainly an unusual sight. My curiosity subsided when the reader of the court called out a case and a crowd, including these teenagers, paced towards the rostrum. These children were students of FSc/FA/intermediate, ...

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Is an exam more important than your life?

It was the first day of the new school year. The morning assembly was about to begin and I saw one of my former classmates crying fervidly while surrounded by a group of students. Upon inquiry I discovered that she had failed the year and was repeating the previous grade. This heartbreaking scene is forever etched in my memory. During my school years, the most dreaded word one could imagine was the word ‘fail’. No matter how confident I was in my performance there was still this unconquerable fear of hearing or seeing the word ‘fail’ on the day of results. The funny ...

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Meet Umair, Pakistan’s very own child prodigy

Child prodigies are an eclectic bunch; being  on the fast-track in the lane of life at such a tender age makes them so. Although, some go on to commit suicide, turn to crime and develop drink and drug problems, we remain irrevocably fascinated by them.  We are overcome by their childhood achievements and allured by the fame and recognition they bring to the family. Secretly we wish in the depths of our hearts that our children would also do the same. However, what we fail to realise is the immense pressure that these kids are put under, the long hours that they spend ...

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What’s the worst thing that can happen in an examination hall?

What is the worst thing that can happen to you in an examination hall? That you are caught cheating? Or, that you prepared for the wrong exam? No. Of course those things are pretty bad, but the worst thing that can happen to you in an examination hall is to be sexually harassed by the invigilator. Picture this: you are busy thinking about some weird biology term or phenomenon that could ruin your grade if you jumble it up. You are drenched in sweat because the fans are out of order. The windows are broken so the sunlight pierces through and hits your ...

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You say OBL, I say CIE

Bin Laden found hiding in Abbotabad! School ID card found hiding behind desk. Explosions heard at PNS Mehran! Explosions heard and felt in the Chemistry practical exam. Should the ISI chief resign? Nope, the History invigilator should. CIA conspiracy theories won’t bother us, but change that A grade to an E and the riot begins. That’s the way it works around here. You can and will forgive me for waking up suddenly on this side of June to find the world crashing down around my ears. That’s because while you were busy frantically watching the news (or ignoring it in a ...

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A procrastinator’s guide to studying

Organise: It is hard to find all your notes, past problem sets, highlighters and post-its when your desk looks as if a monkey had been dancing on it. Studying would be very unproductive if you can’t locate the right supplies at the right time, so you start with organising the desk. While doing that, you find a picture of you and your friend from high school at a picnic on the beach. You realise it’s been a while since you called him, so you decide to do that first. Concentrate: The rainy weather outside is adding to your exam anxiety, ...

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Have you contracted the 2400-degree SAT fever?

“I abhor your loquaciousness” “Excuse me?” “Also, your use of rhetoric is highly un-lucid.” “You sound like your English General teacher.” “Shut up! I’m trying to… OK, test me again. What does tenacious mean?” Welcome to SAT fever, the kind hundreds of students across Karachi contract when preparing for the globally administered Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), an inescapable English and Mathematics trial by fire for anyone who wants to apply to American colleges and universities. If you haven’t registered yet, go crawl back under your rock. Your much-anticipated winter break now comes pre-packaged in a three-inch thick Princeton Review SAT preparatory book, guaranteed to get ...

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A-levels: Atom bombs, measurements and etymology

One of my best friends is half Sindhi and half Pathan, which means that she can kick, scream and yell in four different languages. How I wished I had her linguistic virtuosity at 9am one morning this week when I turned over my Physics paper to start the exam only to be lost for words. I had no one to blame but myself. This was the subject that involves flipping paper cones off the back of a ruler and going cross-eyed trying to determine the terminal velocity they achieve. In A’ Level Physics, tennis balls feel the need to fall ...

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Our ‘rotten’ education system

Amid the flood coverage, it was interesting to see one of the national dailies pick on the corruption in our education system. The story discussed how the chairperson of the Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education bypassed certain rules and regulations to ensure that her children got high grades in their SSC examination. No amount of reporting seems to change the behaviour of those in positions of responsibility for the better, but being a product of the Pakistani education system myself I can’t help but wonder why the system is so rotten. We all know the flaws: rote learning, ...

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