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Have you ever given an exam?


Sumanto Chattopadhyay

Of course, you say? Oh, so you must be a Teacher. No? Never been one? An invigilator, perhaps? Not that either? Perhaps a proctologist, then? You know, one of those doctors who give rectal examinations to their patients.

Are you rolling your eyes, thinking, who is this ignoramus? Doesn’t he know we’ve all been students at one time or another, so we’ve given exams? Well, stop the rolling. It may give you eye strain. Also, it may prevent you from examining your grammar—or the lack thereof. Here’s the thing: if you are an examinee or candidate—as in, the person being tested—you are taking the examination. If you
are the examiner, invigilator or teacher who is setting or administering the test, then you are giving the examination.

What? Yes! You’ve been getting it wrong all along. But you can’t be blamed. The real culprit is the Hinglish phrase ‘exam dena’ (and its equivalents in other Indian languages). ‘Giving exams’ is its literal translation.

People approach examinations differently in the rest of the English-speaking world. In the US, the examinee takes an exam. In Canada, she writes it. In the UK, she sits it, sits for it or even does it. So here are the kinds of statements you might hear in those places:

‘I’m doing my A levels this year.’
‘She is going to write her English test tomorrow morning.’
‘He sat for the history exam yesterday.’
‘You need to study hard before you sit your final examinations.’

But in India, things get a bit fuzzy, with students saying they are giving an exam—which could mean that the teachers are taking the exam. This would be a delightful prospect for the students. It would be a way of getting back at those teachers whose deathly dull lectures required therapy to overcome.

Another thing students say is that they appeared for an examination. As if they merely showed up. Maybe even sat for it. But were they prepared for it? Perhaps not. Such candidates typically compensate for their ignorance with creativity, leading to unique answers to test questions. Some notorious examples:

What is hard water?
Ice.
Where was the Declaration of Independence signed?
At the bottom.
Amit has 36 slices of cake. He eats 29. So now he has…
Diabetes.
How do you convert centimetres to metres?
you remove ‘centi’.
What is the meaning of ‘free press’?
When your ‘istriwala’ does not charge you.

These answers earned zero marks for the testees—yes, that is a word and no, it
doesn’t mean what you’re thinking. But I would have been tempted to reward them
for their wit.

En fin, coming back to ‘giving exams’, I admit that I am beginning to see a certain
logic to it. After all, education has turned into big business in India, and the testing
authorities take a whole lot of money to grant you the privilege of giving them your
answers.
*
Polish Yourself Until You Shine
Episode 2

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.



via TOI Blog

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