Hello India!!!

Hello India!!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Exams in India

“3 Idiots” (Bollywood film starring Aamir Khan) helped me understand some very critical ideas about education and the educational system here in India, but it didn’t prepare me to understand how exams worked. I guess the process of examinations was too tedious for the director to even bother film it. The exams process here is different from the States, a whole lot different.

Back in the States this was how midterm exams worked: Let’s say I’m taking a mass communication course on filmmaking. My professor for that course determines the midterm exam for that specific course. You also get a STUDY GUIDE which helps you prepare for what is expected on the exam. Sometimes there are question/answer sessions where the professor answers any question that the students want to better understand. On the day of the exam all the students taking that course congregate in the same room that we have our class in, and are given the exam. Since we’ve all been brainwashed to believe that plagiarism is wrong none (or should I say most) of us do not have the guts and conscience to cheat.

Here in India this is how exams work: Let’s say I’m taking the same mass communication course on filmmaking. The entire Mass Communication department – along with all the other dept. in the college – takes their midterm exams on the same midterm week. You don’t get a STUDY GUIDE from your Sir/Mam. There are no question/answer sessions with the Sir/Mam. You are expected to know all the material covered that semester. Their syllabus is 3 years long for the specific major they are taking. On the day of the exam all the students congregate in front of the bulletin board to see where they will take their exam according to their subject and roll number. Some students in the same mass communication classes are put in different rooms with other students of another subject (so they can’t cheat).

Different eh? Tell me about it. I was so confused about where I was supposed to report to take my midterm exam. The exam itself was great. I enjoyed writing essays so the exam was fairly simple and straight forward. And I must say, for not having a study guide I feel pretty good about the amount of knowledge I had on the midterm exam essay.

I guess for me the bigger exam was: How do exams work here in India. If that was the exam then I failed miserably. I didn’t understand any or the room assignments or roll number gibberish. I asked people around me but they couldn’t give me much feedback since they were so stressed about their own exam. The line to the Vice Principal’s desk was super long; if I had stayed in the line and waited to speak with the VP then I would have been late for my 1:00 exam. Luckily I managed to meet some professors and explain to them that I’m a foreign exchange student from America and do not understand where I need to be at this moment. They helped me. It’s all trial and error. 

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