It is said when the examinations are approaching, the students suffer from examination fever and rightly examinations are regarded as a curse by students. The approach of examinations means the beginning of fear in the mind of a student.
As a matter of fact, examinations are the only worry of students. They are the only unpleasant experience in an otherwise happy and carefree life. The bugbear of an examination interrupts the smooth course of a student's life. Games, musical concerts, debates and other extra-mural activities are all stopped busy in preparations for examinations. Students are not to be found at the cinema-houses, restaurants and other places of entertainment during the examination days.
Examinations are held to test students' ability, to check up the work they have done during a term, to judge what progress they have made and to determine whether they have been utilising or wasting their time. If there were no examinations, the merits of the various students could not be judged, nor would the majority of students take any interest as it is only the fear of examinations that makes students work.
They know that if they keep on neglecting their books, they will be exposed in examinations. They are aware that their marks will be communicated to the guardians who will take them to task if the results are not satisfactory. They know also that if they foil they will experience a feeling of humiliation. All these things combine to urge a student to hard work. Examinations are, therefore, a spur to effort, an incentive to work.
But examinations are not a reliable test of the ability of students. A student may memorize certain portions of the text and if a question is set from the portions he has prepared, he will no doubt secure good marks, while another student, brighter and more intelligent than the first, may not show good results because he did not especially prepare the questions which were set in the examination.
Similarly it may be said that the standard of marking all the papers is not the same, because different examiners mark different papers in different moods. Most educationists now agree that a simple crucial examination is certainly no test of ability; they insist upon a series of practical tests of knowledge and intelligence over a period of two or three years. The results of all these tests, they say, should be taken into account when judging a student's ability. The argument has no doubt a good deal of truth in it but on the whole it may be said that good students do not usually show bad results and that negligent students do not generally pass.
It cannot be denied, however, that examinations do exert as unusual strain upon the minds of the students who lose all their zest for life at the approach of an examination. Tutors are engaged, notes and guess-papers are purchased, special lectures are attended, coaching classes are thronged, in short, all possible measures are taken to get through the examination. The reason for all this is that throughout the term the students pay little heed to their studies and so when a test is near they have to concentrate all their energies on studies.
The scheme of internal assessment introduced some years ago by some institutions is intended as a step in the direction to keep a watch on the students' labour and regularity in their studies. However, even this has its own drawbacks.