Questionable questions

2014-04-05

Himalayan News Service

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Last year when I was taking my Class XII examinations, I was well prepared in all subjects, with hopes of getting the highest marks, especially in the subject of Accounts. I had changed my schedule to study extra for the subject, but during the examination I couldn’t solve a single question, even after half an hour. Since I had not been able to solve the first question about cash flow, I became frustrated and ended up messing up the other questions as well. After leaving the examination hall, I consulted with my Accounts professor. He then pointed out one mistake, which was not mine but rather that of the genius, old-hand educationist who selected the questions for our exam paper. 

The mistake was a typo on the question paper where there were two different values of money in the two different models—English and Nepali. In the English 

model, the amount in the question was incorrect but in Nepali model the question was correct. Since most students chose to take the test in the English medium, their exams were ruined like mine. Why didn’t the makers of the exam care enough about the students taking it to make sure the questions were typed correctly before printing? Why should a huge amount of money be given to the government in the name of exam papers? 

Not only that much, last year there were also mistakes on the SLC paper when my young brother was taking exam such as confusion in the Nepali questions about synonyms and antonyms. This year too I have seen similar mistakes in the SLC’s first subject test administered, English.

When my students showed me the question paper from the exam, I went through it in its entirety but was stumped by some vocabulary. First I thought that these may be words I hadn’t seen before. I opened my dictionary and typed all those words into my computer but I was surprised when I couldn’t find the meaning. The same culture of allowing typos has held up this year. You can see these mistakes in Q.2. Second paragraph in 4th line “noone”, Q.2.B (c) “lefout”, and Q.3. A (a) “unversity”. Although we can guess the right meaning of these words form our learning capacity, it’s quite hard for students at the SLC level under such immense pressure when there are mistakes in the question paper.

I also disagree with the selection of topics from the so-called textbook to be tested. Often times, priority is given to Western authors and poets, but why can’t more priority given to our own Nepali writers? Even on the English exam, those Nepali authors that write in English can be used. I hope everything will improve after the constitution drafting process. Until then our country is so handicapped that we can’t even curb the cheating culture despite making many promises to stop it. Nor can we perform the simple task of correctly typing a question.