Stories about exams

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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Trick question: God, Zardari, Gilani or the masses?

In the last week of May 1998, I took my final exams for grade 10. In those days, India had just carried out Operation Shakti, which was a continuation of their ‘Smiling Buddha’ nuclear test in Rajasthan. These tests had, undoubtedly, put Pakistan under extreme pressure, and their heat was visibly felt in Pakistani politics and everyday life. Finally, Nawaz Sharif, succumbing to the pressure India had put the nation under, pushed the button for our first nuclear test. The mountains of Chaghi turned yellowish grey and Pakistanis all over the world were ecstatic, completely oblivious to the actual consequences of this test. One ...

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Rozas and results

The Cambridge International Examination results will be released this week – have you prayed for success? There are two very important things that you notice in Ramazan that actually have very little to do with the holy month itself. One: making fun of that kid who sacrificed a goat just before his O-Levels results wasn’t a very good idea, considering that you’re contemplating doing exactly the same thing before this Thursday (Cambridge International Examinations announces its results on Aug 11). Two: going through a list of prospective college tuition fees suddenly makes you wish that your father was the emir of some ...

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Dolled up to say goodbye

Nothing will hit us more than the prospect of leaving school. We haven’t even sat our AS levels, but we can already feel the pinch. And no event sums this up more than the end of year farewell. Whether your school farewell takes place in a fancy hotel, or whether it consists of you passing around biscuits in the science labs, whether it’s for the Matric, O’ Level, Inter and A’ Level, the fact that you will be this dolled up to say goodbye must strike a chord somewhere. Hence this conversation in Physics class: “Do you think orange would be too ...

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Why worry? These exams will come and go

Final exams are starting. Poor school kids, you think. So glad I’m over that, you muse as you reminisce about the hours you spent cramming text, the shock of your last year reports. And even if that’s not exactly what you went through during school, it’s what most of your friends did. Part of being a student is being equated with some clichéd exam story. So it’s totally understandable if you’re wondering why this time you can’t spot the telltale sleep-deprived puffy eyes, or why students aren’t clutching each other in corridors, weeping about how horrible the exam was. It’s ...

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Taking the GMAT: Easier said than done

My university deserves credit for teaching me one great skill: passing an exam by studying just a couple of hours before the paper. However, two years after graduation, as I studied for another important exam I found that I did not have the same focus or zeal that I had in college. Unfortunately, the exam I was studying for was the GMAT. . The low down GMAT is not your run-of-the-mill exam. It cannot be attempted successfully by ratto-fying (or rote learning). If you have a good memory, you might be able to do well in one or two sections of the exam, ...

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Welcome to A’ Levels where school’s too cool for you

“Art tuitions?” Two heads shake somberly in unison at the prospect. “But I thought Art was…” “Don’t even think about saying it’s innate. It’s not.” Students across Karachi will unanimously testify that after-school makeup tuitions exist for every subject under the sun. But, this was the first time we had heard of someone taking tuitions for Art. Perhaps it was nervous backlash against one of the worst O’ Level Art results ever this year when the Cambridge International Examinations suddenly decided to give the Monets of my class Bs and Cs? Did we have to go to Art tuitions now because we suddenly ...

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What Jamshed Dasti taught our youth

 “I feel ashamed that I am in a country where a person who has committed terrible crimes is re-elected. It makes you lose hope, because we are working so hard for our degrees, yet there are those who do nothing, acquire fake degrees, and go far in their lives.  Its very discouraging and it makes you start looking for shortcuts.” These profoud words capture the very essence of the detrimental effects of our fractured political structure on our social strata. But these comments did not come from some famous party leader. Nor did they come from some respected scholar, or ...

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Passing exams, is that it?

The etymology of the word “education” is found in the Latin word educare meaning to “bring up” or to “bring out”. The reality of our system of education has less to do with “bringing out” and more with “putting in.” Students are exposed to a wealth of knowledge. However, the pedagogy favoured at present values the regurgitation and memorization of facts. Knowledge is increasingly viewed as something to consume. Once consumed it is swiftly transferred from thought processes to pen and paper.  Amongst sentences are formed paragraphs, and with it the reproduction of facts; measured by the accuracy with which ...

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College life and the dilemma of red tape

I belong to the 2006 batch of Bahria University. After completing two semesters at BU, one day my mom asked me to show her my interim transcript. Figuring I needed a print copy of my transcript, I went to the examination department, who promptly said, “sorry, we can’t give you the transcript since there is no paper.” I was a bit puzzled over such an unlikely excuse. The next day, I was informed by a couple of friends, “They give this paper excuse to everyone, they don’t want to give transcripts out”. I didn’t give up and went to the Director Academics. He ...

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