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Updated: March 16, 2010 19:55 IST

Bye cram, hello aptitude

Serish Nanisetti
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THEREFORE I am Thinking takes precedence over cramming. Photo: K. Murali Kumar
The Hindu
THEREFORE I am Thinking takes precedence over cramming. Photo: K. Murali Kumar

The changes in exam pattern for SBI Probationary Officers and civil services has students, coaches and parents in a tizzy. Serish Nanisetti discovers more

This Sunday, when thousands of aspirants for probationary officers' jobs in SBI write their exam, they wouldn't have to do number crunching. No arithmetic, no mensuration, no percentages, no time and work, instead they would have to do a bit of Data Analysis and Interpretation as well as Test of Reasoning (high level). And from the next year, even the grand old exam (civil services) that used to test knowledge of a subject would get a makeover with aptitude, moral and ethics getting a priority.

Get ready for an age of entrance examinations where it isn't how much you know that is going to be the key, but how well you use the information that is available. “Nowadays all the information is available at the click of a button, so information is no big deal and that's the reason why aptitude is taking centre-stage,” says C. Vepa who runs a coaching centre in Abids.

This changing pattern has set the cat among pigeons for students as well as the trainers. “Right now we don't even know the syllabus or the pattern of questions expected and how they will test administrative aptitude. So, yes there are certain misgivings among students, but I am sure UPSC is trying to create a level-playing field,” says Sosin, who is part of a civil service coaching centre.

In the banking sector, only SBI has adopted the new pattern of exam, for the civil services the change is only in the preliminary examination.

The Mains will still mean a test of knowledge. But this is an inkling of things to come. Currently, even architecture aspirants have to pass an aptitude test which is unlike the Eamcet or AIEEE.

Though, this news might bring a smile on many former bank job aspirants (there are legions of them) who gave up the fight due to math, the current crop that's ready to take a crack at the exam is equally apprehensive. “The exam is a few days away and we really don't know what is expected from us,” says a girl outside a coaching centre.

“Outside the test centres for banking exams, you would see young men and women sitting with their parents doing their last minute reading. This exam pattern will change that. Students will not make it by cramming. Now it is a matter of patience, ability to think fast and reach a conclusion without putting pen to paper,” says a coach at a banking coaching centre who advises sound sleep the day before the exam.

The backdraught of all these changes is going to hit families soon as an ephemeral quality like aptitude replaces knowledge. So the mothers, fathers who make their children mug up tables and put children's noses to the grindstone can ease up.

“I know this change is happening gradually, but how do we prepare our children for it? Does it mean we give up teaching our children and let them discover what they are good at?” says the father of a std VIII girl, who lives in Ramachandrapuram, voicing the concern of many parents.

Between these misgivings, aspirations and hopes a generation of Indians will hopefully make cramming a thing of the past.

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