“Many highly intelligent people are poor thinkers. Many people of average intelligence are skilled thinkers. The power of a car is separate from the way the car is driven.” – Edward de Bono

It’s not necessary that if somebody has knowledge, then he would also get good grades in the exams. Remember what Rancho from the movie 3 Idiots said? “Run after knowledge, and success is bound to knock at your doorsteps.” Well, unfortunately, life is not exactly how it is portrayed in the movies, where knowledge always leads to good marks. Practically speaking, a well-educated person will definitely have knowledge, but won’t necessarily have good results in the examinations. You may call the system flawed or whatever, but that’s the way it is. You need more than knowledge to have a good score in examinations.

The ability to apply the knowledge and skills learned within the confines of a classroom gives rise to a bigger question: how well-equipped our current examination system is for delivering it? Exams are supposed to test the intelligence of the students and work as a sieve for filtering out the intelligent minds by allotting marks. These ‘marks’ or ‘grades’ can be achieved by putting in hard work, practice and a well-directional methodology.

Why is the Grading System of Examinations Ineffective? 

Many so-called ‘intelligent’ students, as identified by the data emanating from various intelligence tests (which incidentally reinforce the expectations of the teachers very often), are not able to cope up with the question papers that trot out the same questions in a different garb. These papers allow for a little or sometimes no original thought, and even actively discourage creative thinking and logical responses. Simply stated, measuring the intelligence through examinations is, inevitably, as limited as the examination itself. Whilst it might prove to be a reasonable sieve, perhaps even the best one which we currently have right now, but it will fail to identify many of those whom we instinctively perceive as intelligent students.

The education system has this set pattern of exams partly due to the need to keep the entrance tests as objective as possible. It, therefore, removes any room for subjective judgment. When students solve a thousand problems every day, it is obvious that they’ll get similarly patterned questions in their main examination as well. So, they will crack the tests by the virtue of his habit, and not by their intellect or knowledge.

Why not consider the examples of our leading public figures who dropped out of school and still ended up in some really prominent positions in the public life? It clearly reflects that the traditional system of assessment was not capable of measuring their particular abilities, sense of purpose, work ethic, and creativity. We might then ask, are our schools guilty of promoting a passive form of intelligence by asking ‘what do you know’ rather than ‘what can you do’, simply because of the limitations of assessment? And we should definitely do this and analyse its answer.

But Exams Are Important Too, From The Knowledge Point Of View

But there is a positive side to the examinations as well. What will happen if the examinations are completely removed from the system and the evaluation mechanisms focus only on knowledge? The situation which we are talking about is the ideal one, according to which each and every student is inquisitive, is fond of studies and curious about learning new things. But if you see the reality, then we can understand that around 80-85% of the students from today’s generation do not study regularly, which is the proper way, and only do it just before the exams. Now, if we consider them in the equation, then it seems that they would not study anything if the exams will not be there. And what will be their future then? Hence, we can say that exams are the most important tools that help in maintaining ‘an appropriate level of knowledge’ among the average students. So, we can’t term the concept as a complete failure. It does have its pros.

What’s The Solution Then?

What is important is that you need to adopt two different approaches: one when studying for absorbing knowledge and another when studying for exams. When studying for knowledge, you have the freedom to go into the depths and pages of details, in the cross-references, and search the internet for more details. Basically, you can then study it as if you want to write a thesis on it. But when you are studying for an examination, you need to be very specific. Yes, understanding is very important, but limit it to the core fundamental understanding only. Stick to the topics needed and the portions most important from the examination point of view. Some topics attract numerical problems; whereas, some draw theoretical questions. Make a good judgement about it and then prepare the topics accordingly. That is what smart study is all about. Being honest, marks are very important and you need to score high without wasting your time.

Finally, an advice to all those who keep on complaining that they do not like to memorize stuff, but prefer to write answers based on their ‘knowledge’. Do you remember the times when you first learned maths? You were asked to memorize the addition, subtraction, and multiplication tables, right? And then you could perform the division yourself, and then go on to solve unitary method problems, simple, compound interest problems and much more. Here, the first step was to memorize the tables and then you used your understanding. Got my point here? There are concepts that need memorizing and there are those that need understanding. The adequate combination of both: knowledge and a few tricks to score good marks can help you achieve good results in examinations.

So, don’t shy away from examinations by trying to behave like an idealist. Be pragmatic in your approach towards gaining knowledge and then utilize it for getting better results.

You would also like to read about the advancements in educational technology.

All the very best for your exams!

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