Tuesday, June 13, 2017

In the Telugu states, the Exam Paper is leaked every year!

The following article was written for MyInd Makers. Pasting it here for reference.

The past two weeks have been extremely frustrating for thousands of students in Telangana. After results for medical entrance exam were declared, it came to light that the question paper was leaked before hand. The modus operandi was quite shocking and was quite extensively covered in the regional media (and of course, negligible coverage in the “national” media). The current status is that more than 100 students have had access to the paper 3-5 days before the actual exam.
It is extremely shocking that parents paid anywhere between 40 to 60 lakh rupees (yes, you read the amount right) so that their kids get access to the entrance exam paper! It still beats me as to what exactly they were thinking when they agreed to this ludicrous proposal … is the lure of a free medical seat so enticing that you are ready to risk the life of your child? And put thousands of other students into misery? The Telangana government has now announced that the students will have to write another entrance test (making this the 3rd time they are writing this) to secure admissions into medical seats.
And while reading about this fiasco, something stuck to me vividly. In the Telugu states, the exam paper is leaked every year! Especially for subjects related to engineering. Are you shocked at this statement? Allow me to elaborate further.
The teaching formats for the 10th and 12th board exams are quite standard – there is a single text book which would have been taught at least 2-3 times! Students are repeatedly made to practice every single problem, every single equation, and every single theory. The reason being questions in the board exam are guaranteed from the text book. Yes, guaranteed. Sometimes without even changing the names of the variable!
Because of the predictability of the question paper, there is this intense pressure to score high marks. “High marks” here don’t indicate 75% and above.  A fairly large number of students end up with more than 90%. I have known of families who were not happy with their children getting 95%, because scoring near full marks is just so easy in these exams!
Popular blogger, who goes by the handle, realitycheckind once explained how students in Delhi scoring 95% are losing out to students in TN, because TN students are able to score close to 100%. I am not fully familiar with the system in other states, but it is really high time the exams in the Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh stop becoming so predictable. The headline of the article may sound exaggerated, but as long as the exam papers are highly predictable, year over year, there is really no other way of calling attention!
The problem of such predictability is fully felt once the student gets into engineering. Majority of those students who scored more than 90% in Intermediate end up scoring anywhere between 65-80% in their engineering. The drastic drop is primarily because of the lack of focus on analysis up to the 12th class, and the need for high analysis in engineering subjects! In fact, a common question that 4th year engineering students prepare for interviews is this – “Why is there a big fall in your %ages from Intermediate to Engineering?” 
Having different sets of question paper, changing the sequence of options, stringent secrecy in printing – all are extremely good measures from an administrative view-point. But there are more fundamental changes that need to happen – the question papers need to become a little less predictable and little more analytical or subjective. It still beats me how students can score 100% in subjective papers like English and other languages! A simple reform of having at least 10-15 marks dedicated to “tough” questions in the paper can easily help the students in re-calibrating their expectations. Given the big education lobby, this will be a tough reform to carry, but a great one if implemented! Hoping for the best.
PS: A few months back, I had written on a similar topic on how the education system in the Telugu states can be improved. Please read it here.


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