Ever wonder how many exams each one of us,on an average,goes through? Right from the innocent first grade to the cutthroat jungle of later years,all of us have gone through the rigmarole,some more than the others.Begin with childhood.A three year old kid is whisked off to a chic playschool by his eager parents.Even before the mite can understand,he or she is carefully taught nursery rhymes,the alphabet and numeric exercises,all this to please and impress the school authorities.Getting one’s kid admitted into a posh preschool is a matter of extreme importance in this era.There.The kid is packed off to class along with other carefully screened three year olds,all of them dutifully spouting lines of verse in a language building class and putting together playing blocks in an intellectual activity class. Innocence be damned,we want our kids to grow up into polished and suave adults.
Next come the primary school years.Starting from grade one to grade five or six,these years are marked by a continual and consistent series of exams which arrive with unfailing regularity.Given the fine examination structure of our country,where the mind is always put to the test with questions warranting insight,like “define so-and-so” and “describe the structure of this” and “draw a neatly labelled diagram of this insect”,it’s no wonder that our kids develop fine questioning,analytical and reasoning skills by the time they reach middle and high school,where another set of unique exams await them.We have the mid-term,first term,second term exams,with the ubiquitous unit tests popping up in between,before the finals present themselves.The final exams,most importantly,those for the tenth and twelfth grade kids,are your basic Litmus tests.Most of the times,kids turn blue after losing all oxygen to the rigorous exam prep whereupon their parents see red.Even purple.The outcome of these exams seal the kid’s future forever.The percentage scored on the exams is a status symbol for the parents.That’s my 98.5568% daughter there.Accepted into IIT Delhi.Next step?Of course IIM-A.What does she want?Um…never asked.Oh you’re a 90% percent parent?That’s the line for you,over there.Go on.
AIEEE,IIT,EAMCET,PMT,AIPMT.Acronyms that instill nameless dread amongst the student population.Studying for the tests instantly transforms one into a wandering,bleary eyed ghost.For what purpose,you ask?Nobody knows.Just as nobody has any clue as to why India produces so many engineers and doctors on a yearly basis.
Words I understand perfectly:Engineering,medicine,accountancy,commerce,management.
Alien dictionary,please:Museology,fresco painting,monument repairing,manuscript restoring.
The graduate who emerges from the country’s college has another set of exams awaiting him.CAT,MAT,GMAT,GRE,NET,SLET,JRF.Now,these exams are not the wondrous pieces of intellectual exercises as were practised in school.They are direct,brutal and fundamental to the core.So,our highly engineered and suave graduate has to go back to his roots to have a go at them.Academics do not have it easy either.You’ve got a pre PhD,a JRF,an SRF,a candidacy paper,the PhD and also the Post Doctoral Fellow degree.
We are examined at every step of our lives.We are like guinea pigs in God’s experiments,constantly running from one exam to the other,fulfilling criteria,posting forms,collecting hall tickets,dreading the results.Is God more Pavlovian or Skinnerian?You pick.
Learning never ceases.Apparently,neither do exams.