Showing posts with label examinations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label examinations. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


A fortnight ago, I took the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) in Accra – daunting, but an essential experience. The GRE is a standard examination that allows individuals gain admission into graduate universities in the United States of America. It is a requirement of many grad schools. It would interest you to know that anxiety got me to the exam center almost an hour earlier than commencement time. Fortunately, the exam environment was comfortable – I felt at home – a result of my teaching in the computer lab mostly. The invigilators were also very welcoming.

As was expected, the Verbal Reasoning sections proved to be an Achilles’ heel; the Quantitative Reasoning was – well, okay. Analyzing the Issue/Argument sections were in a class of their own.

The experience made me realize that preparation indeed should not be underestimated. Juggling studying with work was no fun, but it was necessary. Luckily I had a friend who was also preparing for the exam the same time – we collaborated – not effectively, but it was worth it.

During a study session, I asked a colleague of mine to help me build up my vocabulary. I had an epiphany! He’s from a French background, and this made it easier for him to get the meanings of most of the words I threw at him. This I gathered is because most English words have French, Latin origins and therefore, basic knowledge in these languages is a plus for an individual studying for the GRE. Lesson learnt: Studying a foreign language can be a blessing – even in an English environment. Fact.

Because the exam is computer-based, typing skills are important, especially for the Analyze Issue/Argument sections. Thirty minutes can be pretty much a short time if your typing skills are poor. At a point, I found myself hitting the Ctrl + S keys to save my work – no need, because your work is saved automatically. (Laughs)

And oh, do not be deceived that 4 hours is a long time for an exam. The time will be shorter than you could possibly think of.

Let me know of your experiences as well. Do comment on this post. Thanks.

I wish prospective takers of the GRE all the best. Stay Blessed.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Examination Hall – Irking moments

Finally, I would briefly touch on some irking moments in the examination hall. The Oxford English and the Merriam-Webster’s dictionaries both describe an invigilator as an individual who supervises students/candidates in an examination. Students have however turned invigilators into ‘errand boys/girls’.
As a general rule, you (as a student) are supposed to enter the examination hall with all needed materials: pen, pencil, erasers, sharpener, ruler, calculator, ID cards and what have you. More often than not, you find students calling the attention of the invigilator to collect one item or the other from a colleague of theirs.
You also have individuals who would like to visit the washroom countless number of times! They are generally not allowed though, but it is annoying.
Others write on question papers, when they have been instructed not to do so.
Sometimes you have students just getting up from their seats – without any prompting from an invigilator – and walking out of the examination hall – to urinate! Argh!
Another irking moment is when the invigilator is ready to distribute answer booklets/question papers for the examination to begin, only to find students now busily skimming through their notes and discussing ‘possible’ questions.
Other times, students tend to fidget and talk amongst themselves in the presence of an invigilator even though he/she has cautioned them not to. Why do we as students test the paws of invigilators? It beats my mind.
Another irking scenario – an announcement has been made, probably to correct the mistake in a question, or even an instruction. Moments later, a student asks the invigilator what announcement was made or even a question pertaining to the correction that has already been rectified. Very disheartening.
Let us as students, follow examination rules and regulations and stop annoying and frustrating invigilators.

The Examination Hall – Modus operandi?

Remember I already spoke of the intimidating nature of the examination hall? Well, the presence of invigilators adds to the ‘misery’ of students.
However, some students overcome their fear and write their papers in peace – positively – or negatively.
Positively because, they take their time to read over instructions and questions carefully, understand what is required of them, and confidently answer the questions being posed.
The negative factor is when some students try (and often succeed) outwitting invigilators – by cheating.
A critical point to note here is that all sin is sin, no matter the gravity assigned to it by society.
What therefore is the modus operandi (mode of operation) of such deviants in the examination hall? These include, but not limited to:

  •  The bringing of foreign materials into the examination hall. They prepare ‘small notes’ (a.k.a ‘ginger’) on pieces of papers, handkerchiefs, pencil erasers, their skin (thighs, palms), calculators. I wonder why an individual would spend hours preparing such notes and not learn. It’s silly.
  •  The holding of scripts at angles that permit friends to steal glances and copy from them
  •  The hiding of notes in washrooms and visiting them under the pretence of going to urinate
  •  The swapping of question sheets on which answers have been written
  • Whispering to one another
  • The soliciting of help from invigilators : asking for the spelling of a word, seeking the explanation of a question et cetera
Other means are employed by such ‘cheating’ students who have no shame.
I personally believe that appealing to the conscience of individuals is one way to go about this problem other than the vindictive and forceful approach that is being applied.
Authorities should bear in mind that, if you treat an individual as a child, he/she behaves and thinks like one. Respect students and you are sure to get it back. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Examination Hall – Distractions

Pens communicate with paper vigorously as students write answers to the questions that have been posed by their instructors. Some frantically chew on their pen covers/tops, others fidget ceaselessly. Some stare into the ceiling and some still look for opportunities to have a glance at what their supposed ‘Messiahs’ – sitting by them – have written.
The tension in the examination hall is very great.
Amidst all these, there are other factors at play that make it difficult for the student to fully concentrate. These factors include (but not limited to):
-          Intermittent announcement of the time left on the clock by invigilators

  •           A lady’s beads/thong provocatively signaling one’s eyes for attention (applies to guys)
  •           The thighs of a lady shooting out of her skimpy skirt
  •           Invigilators dragging their feet as they move about (not forgetting the noise made by their shoes)
  •           Some students whistling for attention from friends
  •           Sometimes, some students (girls especially) are distracted by the dresses, hairstyles, nail polishes being worn by their friends
  •           Some students ‘admire’ or even ‘have crushes’ on some invigilators and therefore spend quite an amount of time watching them as they move about the examination hall.
As can be rightly observed, distractions during examinations are essential to the study of human behaviour and how effective people are, under pressure.

The Examination Hall -- Examinations?

Examination as defined by the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary is an exercise designed to examine progress or test qualification or knowledge.
The Oxford English dictionary defines it as a formal test of knowledge or ability in a subject or skill.
However, it a word most students – if not all – dread to hear. It sends shivers down the spine of some, others just want to take it and get it over and done with, while still others wish they have alternatives to choose from, other than taking the examinations.  I remember a friend who once suggested that, instead of every student writing examinations, a system could be put in place where students are billed for examinations, without actually writing it. I wonder if that is ever feasible in any institution.
If you ask me, I’d say it all comes down to one thing – your perception of examinations.  That influences your approach to this exercise.
Our educational system is such that, students have been, and are being brought up to believe that passing examinations is the surest way to make it in life – as if you life depended on it! Society therefore tags those who get good grades as being intelligent and the unfortunate ones as dullards.
No wonder a lot of examination malpractices go on these days. Who’s to blame?
Personally, I see examinations as platforms to see if students really got the concepts of what they have been taught in class. It’s a form of feedback. Once, as students, we begin to see exams a as a feedback mechanism, other than the perceived punishment, we should be fine.

Please share your views by commenting on this post. Thanks

You may also be interesting in the following articles:
The Examination Hall – Setting
The Examination Hall – Distractions
The Examination Hall – Modus operandi?
The Examination Hall – Irking moments