An Inconvenient Truth About Exams Of Manipur

Kanghujam Sunindra *

Students appearing for Class X and XII Exam at Bamon Leikai, Imphal :: 4 March 2013
Students appearing for Class X Exam at Bamon Leikai, Imphal in March 2013 :: Pix - Deepak Oinam

This week is full of events that are very decisive in the lives of lots. First the results for class 12 exam( conducted by Council Of Higher Secondary Education, Manipur) and Class 10 exam( by Board Of Secondary Education, Manipur),which are considered to be milestones in the life of a student were declared; and now the election which is going to decide the fate of 1.2 billion people has also been declared, and the whole nation is filled with exuberance and everyone is deeply engrossed in the miracles of the new govt.

But keeping aside the political obsession for a while, I would to put forward some concerns (if not problems) associated with the exam held in Manipur. These exams are of immense importance even if the marks you secured in these exams cannot directly lead you to a niche job. These exams, in some cases, can drastically alter the destiny of a student. And, now the results have come, and it means joy and merriment for a few who are able to score decent marks and can make themselves within the merit list. I extend my hearty congrats to all of you and now you have got the rewards of many sleepless night you paid by burning midnight oil. But it means frustration and depression for many who were not able to go through these exams or got less than what was expected. My heart reaches out to you for the failure.

But I would like say something( though I am not an expert). Don't make an exam let you down or don't let a test of 3 hours decide you destiny. You are at the very outset of your career and you have miles to go. Don't let these failures fail you because you have a bigger exam to pass i.e. your life. Remember all the personalities who have shone in their lives and set examples failed in one way or the other, but what makes them different from the rest is that they learned from their failures and they learned to move their life on facing all the daunting challenges. So, just learn your mistakes and move on, and who knows you become one of them.

Now after the results it will be time soon for a lot of students and anxious parents running hurriedly to many schools or colleges for further studies as they can't just embrace the marks and sit contently.

And, it means that for some who were very ecstatic for being able to cross 80% in the exams , and who have actually started to feel very confident to accomplish something in their life, the time is closing in where their confidence is shattered and their high spirits come to a halt. And, they will stoop so low at the sight of cut-offs list of various colleges. Because the cut-offs of most of the top colleges for instance –Delhi University ranges from 90%-99% even though there is variation for different courses and castes (gen, SC, ST, OBC).

But how many students in the 12th exam conducted by council exam can cross 90%. If we go by the statistics of the past few years, very few people (say) around 10 students can cross the bar of 90%. So, what does it imply? It implies many students from our state who have been adjudged to be the toppers in our state are not going to be denied admission in Delhi. This has been the trend throughout the years.

Isn't it a disgrace to our state that a student who scores a decent mark inside Manipur and when whey he reaches Delhi their marks are not decent enough to get admission to a prestigious college like St. Stephen's College, Miranda House, Hindu College etc .For instance, the cut-off for Economics in 2013 in St. Stephen's College is 96.75% for Science students,98% for commerce students and 96.5% for students from humanities background.

Even when the cut-off is pretty high for science students, how can a student from Manipur council from Arts stream manage to score 98%. It won't happen even in the wildest dream at the present marking scheme. Is it because the students of our state are not competent enough as compared to others? Or is the quality of education delivered in the state inferior to get admission outside the state? Answer for both questions are negative. Because I have witnessed many state toppers, who somehow managed to get into those top colleges are able to top in their respective colleges or even in the whole DU.

But it will be extremely misleading to accuse the Council/Board that they have treated the student in an unfair way by giving them less mark than what they actually get. The Council or Board has really done a very commendable job in maintaining the standards of education in Manipur. So, everyone gets what he/she deserves. But if we compare the marking schemes of exams conducted by Manipur Council/ board with that of CBSE/other states' board their marking scheme is very lenient that it seems like they are given as freebies.

For instance: it is not an issue to score 80% in CBSE even for a mediocre student and the concrete evidence for this is the switching of many students from Manipur board/ council to CBSE. And, personally I have seen some people from CBSE/other state boards who scored around 96 or 97 out of 100 in English. But when I see their writing skills, it was very shocking to see such a pathetic writing.

But in Manipur crossing 90 in English is a prerogative of a few gifted people. Having said this I am not trying to disparage the quality of exams conducted by CBSE. The question paper set by CBSE is very standard, systematic, and rigorous and maintains a right balance of difficulty level to assess a student's understanding and analytical abilities. But, when it comes to the question of marking scheme, it is an undisputed fact that there is far too lenient and due to this the cut-off list is sky high.

What I am trying to infer is not that Manipur council/board should emulate CBSE/other boards' marking scheme. But it is time to wake up and look out what is happening around and to act in tandem with the rhythm. It is expedient for both board/council to introduce some reforms especially in the marking scheme. Since last year, the publication of topper list for cl-12 based on merit has been switched to grading system, and I personally feel such reformation would somehow relieve students of undue pressure to compete against each other in the rat race.

But, there is still an abiding compulsion to read a lot and care for each small detail and to by-heart a lot of derivations and learn the presentations (because in Manipur though inconspicuously there is mark for how you present the answer in exams even if the answer is right)., or otherwise they are gonna be denied admission to college.

Thus, this new grading reform is of little use and what is the use of reform which has no use? The concern of this issue has been compounded since class 12 mark has now been taken as 40% weightage for ISEET (Indian Science Engineering Eligibility Test-formerly AIEEE and IIT now combined to ISEET) Every student is facing a predicament whether to prepare for council or competitive exams because both matter in his ranking. From interaction with my juniors and friends I came to know that scoring 85% and above in boards like Andhra Board is a cakewalk. So, their students can prepare for competitive exams in peace.

In conclusion, I would like to underscore the expediency of Manipur Council/Board to realize the plight in which the students' community in Manipur is facing and introduce prompt reforms in the marking scheme such as moderation of mark or scaling system to scale up the marks without compromising the percentile of the students or the quality of the exam.

Such scaling system is even prevalent in the highest civil service exam conducted by UPSC to bring uniformity among different subjects. So, it is not illegal or there is no harm in doing so. Rather it seems very whimsical to victimize your own good students with your so called 'good' and 'rigorous' marking scheme.

* Kanghujam Sunindra wrote this article for
The writer is presently pursuing graduation in Physics Hons (4th semester - 2nd year) at St. Stephen's College, Delhi University
The writer bagged 2nd Rank in Council Exam, Manipur,2013; Stood in 1st rank at state level AIEEE, 2013 and also qualified for IIT-JEE, 2013 in the General Category.
The writer can be contacted at kanghujamsunindra(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on May 20, 2014.

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