What are exams?
The idea behind exams is to check our knowledge and understanding. Exams help convince the person or institution evaluating our proficiency to answer questions in a particular subject.
We believe that exams are a part of our life – not only as a student, but as adults too! In school they come at regular intervals with a time table, but the presentations and the targets we have at work are a kind of exam too.
Are exams important?
Our take? Yes, of course exams are important! Before you go all philosophical, hear us out 🙂
Imagine giving a presentation to an investor or a customer – is that important or not? Of course it is. We call it “sales”, but really, isn’t it our “power to convince”?
Look at the entry into any course at any level in any country. There are a number of different scores that they look at – from a whole variety of competitive exams. Even our government conducts competitive “sarkari exams” like UPSC and MPSC. Even the largest employer of India, conducts The Railways recruitment board exam.
Are exam marks important?
Marks are just numbers which represent a way to measure how much you know about the questions being asked. Marks exist in the workplace too, when it comes to our appraisals!
(That said, the competitive exam scenario post Std. 12 takes the importance of marks to a different level, which we think is driven due to the very skewed supply and demand for quality educational institutions by a large Indian population!)
At Walnut School, we do not like to use the “excuse” that marks are not important because in reality, they are!
Is taking an exam different from understanding concepts?
Taking exams is a different skill from understanding the concepts and learning the content. And like picking up any other skill, it needs practice.
Exams and marks don’t need to stress us out though. If adequately prepared, even for subjects we don’t like, it is possible to crack them. And that is what we do at Walnut. We help them understand and prepare.
Examinations are an inevitable part of life and they are necessary too. The original idea behind examinations is not bad at all – it checks progress and gives us data to take a decision about the next action – are we ready to progress to the next level or do we need some more effort at the current one. However, the way examinations have been planned and conducted over the years around the world and particularly in our country have resulted in a lot of negative feelings associated with this concept.
Learning and testing are two different things and require different mindsets. If we wish to test to fairly evaluate, the candidate needs to be prepared properly for the evaluation. We are familiar with this approach for the all important board exams when we prepare with prelims and what not.
There is a lot of anxiety and stress associated with this examination because the kids (and parents) are suddenly thrown into it with very little awareness and support. That leads to the hunt for additional classes, tutors and what not.
For Walnut students (and parents) this is simply not done. So, how do we do this at Walnut School?
Some evaluations keep happening during their regular routine. These are quick with immediate feedback. There are plenty of practice tests for these. And every six weeks is a summative assessment. There are multiple rounds of practice for this as well.
The extensive practice rounds have many benefits:
- They allow the students to switch from the learning mode to the testing mode.
- They give students a chance to understand where they are going wrong and improve on that
- It gives the teachers a chance to understand weak areas of the class and there is a chance to actually go over those concepts again and strengthen them
- It gives students a good opportunity to work out time management strategies, techniques to think, summarize and answer and present well
And after all this is the final round of tests:
- When the final test happens after the practice rounds, the students are familiar with the format, well prepared and have overcome their weaknesses
- They are in the ‘testing’ mindset as they have got enough time to transition from the learning mode to the testing mode
- There is no anxiety. And this becomes a habit right from Std 1. Kids know they have to prepare systematically and then, it’s all okay. There is no reason to panic!
- Walnut School understands the need for examinations – particularly sensible examinations.
We prepare students for the tests and do a lot of work in the process. We test to gauge weaknesses and help point them out well in time when something can actually be done about them.
We have interesting formats and questions in the examinations and even in the regular coursework which does not turn studying into a rote-learning fest. They have to do a lot of thinking, processing and expressing. All this works out really well as the kids get older.
Our students can take on exams with ease (while the rest of the country struggles with them!). What better way to show that our students are indeed tough outside and smart inside!