Stories about exams

I finally escaped…

The days of my four-year-old relationship were a mixture of contentment, depression and confusion at my inability to understand what he was saying. As days passed, I felt that he was becoming more possessive and controlling than ever and I wasn’t really sure if I could cope with his long list of demands anymore. There were days in those four years when I spent sleepless, agitated nights trying to understand what he really wanted out of me. I was more than willing to adhere to his demands but by the end of it, I felt more exasperated and tired as ...

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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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CSS: When we allow cheats to be Civil Servants

In 2012, there were a total of 10,066 candidates who appeared for the Central Superior Services (CSS) written exam. Only 800 of these candidates managed to pass the test; in other words, just 7.95 % of the students who wrote the exam were successful. These stats clearly show that passing the CSS is no piece of cake. Thus, when the news broke that some of the students of Faisalabad center were given open access to sealed answer booklets and were helped by the GPO staff members, many were rightly appalled. It was discovered that the papers had been tampered with and ...

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Failing education

As the capital city of Islamabad is growing, its population is increasing and its boundaries are getting wider. As per a survey conducted by the census department in collaboration with the Federal Directorate of Education and the local administration, the capital’s current population is 1.7 million which was approximately 100,000 when the capital city was shifted here from Karachi and only 800,000 in 1998. Due to the rise in population, multiple problems at the administrative and management level have raised their ugly heads and one of these problems is disparity in education at educational institutions in Islamabad and other rural areas. Though, ...

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Education is not just about how many As you score

Recently, the British Education Secretary announced that students starting their A’ levels in England from fall 2015, will return to the previous system of an “all or nothing” exam at the end of two years of study. Eventually, these changes will not only impact exams in England, but will also trickle into tweaks to the manner in which Cambridge International Examinations and EdExcel International exams are organised. It is still not clear whether Wales and Northern Ireland will adopt these changes; Scotland has a separate system. The current system of units or modules has been criticised for allowing examination retakes and grade inflation. ...

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Education’s own ‘class conflict’

Pakistanis constantly face the dilemma of choosing the right education system for our children. Most of us, no matter which education system we belong to, would somehow always prefer the Cambridge system over the local Matric system when it comes to choosing for our children. I, myself, would make that choice. The reason is very clear: the British education system ‘imported’ for our progress is undoubtedly better than the home grown one. Children who get the opportunity of appearing for Cambridge International Examinations tend to have an edge over the Matric students. But the edge comes at a high price – inequality. ...

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Dear KU, can you just figure out a date please?

When I first enrolled in a dental college in Karachi, I was expecting to be done with my Bachelors in Dental Surgery within four years. However, that dream seems to have fizzled out. As each day passes, I sit at home, wondering when I will get the opportunity to write my exams and move on to second year. The institutes that are affiliated with the University of Karachi are required to conduct their exams at the end of the year, which occur at a time specified by the KU. When I and the rest of the students of course, were ...

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A day in the life of an O’ level student

Myra sits in her exam centre and carefully looks at everything inside the exam room, taking in every minute detail around her. She looks for any means of entertainment, or something ─ anything ─ that would reduce this boredom. Her friend purses her lips which reveal her annoyance at Myra, too afraid to show any real emotions for fear of the invigilator. The invigilator, a stout, stern woman moves her eyes around the room like a hawk, ever ready to catch any miserable brat hand gesturing or passing random smiles. One can’t smile, speak, or move their arms to stretch as ...

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36 A’s or a 4.0 GPA won’t make you a genius

My goal in a classroom setting has been simple; make students as uncomfortable as possible with the content of the lecture. Once they get uncomfortable with the ideas that I float, they despise me, and to prove me wrong they go back home and do research. I have observed three outcomes of such a situation: 1) Students do some research and agree with my views. 2) Students curse me and reject my views outright. 3) Students get confused and realise that the world is complex and requires much more in-depth study. I aim for students to end up in the third slot. What we produce, ...

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Cheating on exams: I blame the system

A recent news report in The Express Tribune titled “Rs100 is all your dad needs to have pharras delivered to you during the exam” began with the question; “Is there a point to sitting examinations at all?”  The article was about the recent case in Sukkur where invigilators and school staff were found helping students cheat, as eager parents outside paid them off. Let’s start by considering the question posed –  is there a point to taking exams at all? Across the globe, educational systems have implemented testing as a means by which to discriminate academic performance between students. However, this is a hangover ...

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