It dates back to a century earlier when some examiner commented on the academic performance of Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India, that the examinee is better than the examiner. A more or less similar situation is evinced again in the results through 100% marks obtained in the recent results announced by the examining boards at the secondary level. However, the award of cent percent marks is seen for the last few years. It is not to cast aspersions on the individual children scoring hundred percent marks, but the scenario of examinees scoring full marks requires introspection. The moot point is “Do cent percent marks evince cent percent learning?”
There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.Jiddu Krishnamurti
The examinations are one of the most important elements of the education system. The learning levels of students in different subjects taught to them are assessed by examinations. The documented performance of students in exams becomes an integral part of their credentials.
Presently, there is a practice of final examinations conducted by the apex regulators i.e. different boards of education. Majorly, the absolute marks scored in respective subjects are translated into grades that have a range. However, certain boards award only absolute marks. Therefore, the award of full marks in any subject examination is likely to have certain implications because of the exam performance being linked to learning levels. The award of grades based on relative evaluation, instead of the absolute marks can be a better alternative to resolve such issues.
Does the securing of cent percent marks imply complete learning of the respective subject(s)? Answer to this question is affirmative from the perception and purpose of the examinations. Nevertheless, the completeness of learning in any subject/domain is truly hypothetical and there appears some fallacy in the process. Even such students are also taken aback at the full marks secured by them.
A look at the major components of the examination conducted by the respective boards shows that primarily there is a question paper, examination centre for writing exams, written answer book of the examinee, evaluation of the answer books, the award of marks, compilation, and declaration of results. If all the aforesaid components have integrity, then the marks earned by an examinee are a sole reflection of the performance exhibited in the answer book(s).
Conclusively, it is the quality of question paper that enabled one to score full marks. At times examinees are also found complaining about the quality of question papers and the same should be picked up as feedback about the standard of examination question papers.
Depending upon the pattern followed by the concerned board, the question paper(s) can have either objective type questions or subjective type questions or both. The award of marks is usually in binary format in case of objective type questions i.e. either full marks or zero marks. But in the case of the subjective question(s), especially for the non-mathematical subjects, it is hard to accept the marking pattern being of a similar kind as that of objective type questions and mathematical subjects. For example, securing 100 marks out of 100 marks in language subjects appear unreasonable.
Ideally, the boards are supposed to unequivocally follow the practice of- preparing question papers assorted with difficulty index of questions being simple, moderate, and hard. The recent phenomenon of examinees securing the 100% marks has necessitated revisiting the difficulty index. Apparently, there seems an absence of seriousness while framing the question papers for assessing the learning levels.
All pointers of the reasons for full marks award lead to the need of reviewing,
- rigour level of questions in the question paper
- the pattern of question paper
- fair conduction of examination
- quality of evaluation
It goes without saying that the present generation is reasonably conscious and leaves no stone unturned in preparing themselves well for the examination. This throws a challenge to the education boards for raising the bar. The marks obtained should always allude to the scope of further improvement by the students.
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The students securing full marks may not be able to justify the completeness of their learning levels in respective subjects. Also, such absoluteness of learning deciphered from the full marks obtained may bring in complacency in the students in their future pursuits, which could be disastrous. In fact, it is impossible for anyone to be perfect and complete from the learning and knowledge point of view.
The education boards need to make honest introspection of the examination system and improve the quality and standard of all components. The apex regulators of the education system and academics should ponder upon the cent percent marks phenomenon collectively, failing which the marks obtained will lose their sanctity and not be the true indicator of learning levels. To remain the universal indicator of true learning levels of the students, the examination system should analyze itself holistically.
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About the author
Prof. Onkar Singh is the Vice Chancellor of Veer Madho Singh Bhandari Uttarakhand Technical University, Dehradun, He has been the Founder Vice-Chancellor of the Madan Mohan Malaviya University of Technology, Gorakhpur (U.P.). He is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Harcourt Butler Technical University, Kanpur (U.P.).