“Olympiads help to hone additional skills”

CEREBRAL EXERCISE: Talent search examinations seek to identify students’ academic strengths.

CEREBRAL EXERCISE: Talent search examinations seek to identify students’ academic strengths.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: M.KARUNAKARAN

Meera Srinivasan

Such examinations identify brilliant students

CHENNAI: For a student in primary or middle school, who is used to revising a prescribed textbook, going through additional textbooks for a better understanding of concepts could be important. Especially if a talent search examination or an Olympiad is imminent.

With the culture of such examinations and contests gaining more popularity in the city, school students are increasingly equipping themselves to take them. Academics say this is the healthy trend, for Olympiads and other competitive examinations help students to identify their areas of strength.

Several government and private agencies involved in academics and research conduct Olympiads at different levels. Chennai-based Ramanujan Museum & Math Education Centre, in association with the Tamilnadu Science and Technology Centre, holds a math talent search examination for Class V students.

Director of the centre Meena Suresh says such examinations are not aimed at testing students’ knowledge, but they seek to identify students with a “mathematical eye.” “Mathematics is about looking for patterns, and these tests help students identify their ability to do so.”

Olympiads cover a range of subjects such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, computer science and informatics.

They are conducted at State level as well as national and international levels. Students get a chance to evaluate their relative performance in a subject, say experts.

Senior academician and former Principal of P.S. Senior Secondary School Vijayalakshmi Srivatsan says many of the Olympiads, the ones conducted at national level in particular, have a series of camps for students who clear qualifying rounds of selection. “The exposure a student gets at these camps is tremendous,” she says.

However, it is important for the students to sustain their interest. “Unfortunately, even the toppers in these tests go to premier institutions of engineering. Consequently, even those who have the aptitude for pure sciences do not pursue them,” she observed.

Ms. Suresh also feels that in the long run, a pool of students performing well in such examinations should be created. The Higher Education Department could invest in developing specialised branches of learning that these students could take up, she added.

For students appearing for these Olympiads, preparing for them is serious business. K. Jayaganesh, a Class VII student of D.A.V. Public School, Velachery, has won a number of prizes at the State level and district level talent search examinations. “I refer to several books and this also helps me in my school,” says the youngster. Asked what he wanted to do after school, he says, “My aim is to make it to an IIT.”

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