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Clues, cues and charms

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CRACKING IT Instead of preparation, it is superstitions, guides and gut feeling that rule the roost
CRACKING IT Instead of preparation, it is superstitions, guides and gut feeling that rule the roost

The ultimate guide to crack the Great Indian Examination Jamboree

A lot of fuss is made about examinations during this time of the year. Everyone is full of gyan on how to crack the Great Indian Examination. Everything from model question papers to lucky charms are on offer. But exams more than anything else provide for the best memories when you are through with formal education. Exams always begin with that dreaded word, preparation, which comes with two diametrically opposite schools of thought. One believes the entire academic year is preparation time while the latter often wakes up to it the night before. If you belong to the former school, stay clear of all means of telecommunication as you can expected to be flooded with: "So you are prepared? Can you tell a few important questions please?"Preparing study timetables is always a fun exercise. How else can you legitimately play with chart paper and markers? Generous chunks of waking hours are divided in blocks between physics, chemistry, mathematics and the rest, but what about the Cricket World Cup, the game of hide `n' seek, a trip to the ice cream parlour...

Two ways

The day before the examination is again one with conflicting schools of thought. One believes in brute-force memorising while the other prefers to take the approach that "understands" the subject. But whatever the choice, the household behaves straight out of a soap. Your parents always seem to know more about your subject than you. "Have you studied that chapter?" And they also seem to pool their resources very effectively: "Xyz's mother said that question is most likely to appear. It seems it has been repeated for the last four years... "The question bank is the most sought-after book. It is considered mannafrom heaven. It is not just publishers who go about the exercise of compiling them but also teachers, whose stars are rated depending on the success rate of their respective banks. Sleep is definitely not on the agenda for the night before. But it is probably the best panacea and it is said to help too. Just keep your notes under your pillow; by osmosis it is supposed to seep into your mind!The morning before is either time to revise or as in most cases take a blind punt in guessing the question paper. For a few when they see someone furiously in the last legs of preparation, it is quite tempting to go and ask with an air of innocence: "Did you prepare that theorem? The professor says it is a sure shot question this time."Exams are also the time when superstitions reign supreme. Sneeze once before you enter the hall and you're history, sneeze twice and you get the easiest question paper in history. Some put a small religious symbol at the top of every page and a few are even known to tally the serial number on their answer script to see if it is numerologically lucky. Practical exams are considered a breeze but here it is not your preparation that matters but rather your relationship with the laboratory attendant. A year's worth of coffee, bonda/bajji, tobacco and plenty of smooth talking are rewarded with the best of apparatus. Pick a quarrel with these guys at your own peril. The exam season culminates annually with a host of entrance examinations. They are famous for their four-choice answers and you have exactly four ways to answer them. One, you actually prepare and solve the problems. Two is simply: "inky, pinky and ponky". Three involves arriving at the precise algorithm that the computer uses to decode the answer scripts so that you can plot the exact sequence of dots that are the correct answers. And the fourth is none of the above, mark something, go out and enjoy the summer.ANAND SANKAR

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