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Exam Preparedness : March Musings

By G. Balasubramanian

The month of March has always been a trying time for educators in India, wherever they are. The singular reason for that the examinations of most Boards of education and sometimes even of the institutions of higher learning are conducted during this month. I have seen several school heads with their BPs on the rise and a few more wrinkles on their face during this month, which of course vanishes a few weeks later. And of course, for me, this month had been the most trying month in every calendar year as the Board examinations usually commenced on 1st or 2nd of March. I just thought it fit to share some interesting and trying moments I have experienced in my career, which could be of value to many of my friends.

It was late night of 1st March in late early nineties, say around 9.30 pm. I didn’t have a mobile then and hence the call came on my landline. “Sir my name is Shweta. ( proxy name). I am a student of class x in one of the schools in Delhi. I understand that you do pre-examination counselling.”

“Yes. Which school are your from?”
“That doesn’t matter, Sir. I just want to know what will happen if I don’t take the exam.”
I laughed and said “Simple, you will be marked absent. But why you don’t want to take the exam.”
“I am not prepared. Tomorrow is the exam and I am not yet ready.”
“How can you say you are not ready? After all, you have been studying for the whole year.”
“I am mentally sick sir. I am depressed. Heavens are not going to fall down if I don’t take the exam.”
I was shocked at her reply. “Why are you depressed? What is the reason?”

She started crying. “ I don’t want. No body at home is interested in me.” I consoled her and prolonged the conversation. I understood she was the only daughter of a businessman who was quite rich and his wife who had more social obligations. I wanted to talk to the mother. “No, they have gone for dinner and will come only by midnight.” A day prior to the Board examinations, parents have other priorities too!

After a lot of effort, I convinced her to go and just write in the exam whatever she knew. After about three months when the results were declared, she called me up and said “Sir, Thank you. I have passed. I got 67 in social sciences examination which I wanted to miss.”

Some parents show indifferent attitudes towards their children, for one reason or the other, may be, because they have other social and economic priorities. While examinations, by themselves, cause a stress, indifference from the family adds to the pressure. Some amount of sacrifice of their personal comforts is essential from the parents side to encourage and make children perform at their best. I always remember this case on the first of March.