The question banks brought out by the State Parent Teacher Association (PTA) have always been popular among students in the State and Matriculation schools. The demand only seems to be growing if the crowd at the DPI at the question bank sales counter is any indication.
Last year, nearly 60,000 copies of the question bank were sold and this year, the number could be more, according to office-bearers. According to P. Selvakumari, secretary of the Association, nearly Rs.1 crore is invested in the exercise. “We bring out question banks for both, the Matriculation syllabus and State board syllabus,” she said. While the question bank for the Matriculation syllabus costs Rs.120 each, that of the State Board, printed both in English and Tamil, costs Rs.80 each. “We involve senior professors who are on the textbooks-writing committee in designing these question banks,” Ms. Selvakumari said.
A section of teachers, too, believes that question banks help prepare students for examinations. “A lot of times, question papers for a given year, are only a combination of questions from previous years' question papers. Students who attempt past question papers are definitely in a better position to face the examination,” says a teacher of a government higher secondary school in Ashok Nagar.
In fact, one teacher even admitted to training students more using question banks rather than the textbook. “There is so much pressure on us to produce cent per cent results in the board examination. There is just no time to go through concepts in great detail. We rely on question banks,” said a higher secondary school mathematics teacher.
All the same, some teachers also recognise this approach as being “limited and narrow”. As the headmistress of a Chennai School puts it, “When examinations have become a test of memory rather than knowledge, such question banks are bound to do well in the market.”