As I promised two posts back, I am writing an update now that first term exams have concluded. Since most of you who read my blog are used to the American education system, I will give a brief synopsis on what it's like to take an exam in India. Preparations for the exams here are more intense than anything I have seen people do in the US. Most obviously, CPPHS (basically) only tests students once per year, every June. Other tests throughout the year are usually created by the teachers and given at the end of a unit or chapter. Though you need to study for some of the tests if you want to score well, it doesn't generally take more than 20-30 minutes to prepare. For term exams here, exams are given every other day for just over 1 week. The days before the exams are 'exam prep days' so no students go to school. The "no students go to school on prep days" did not apply to me this term because my host mom was a teacher at my school. Since it was only me and her during work hours, I always had to go to school on the days no one else showed up. It was quite boring since you can only chat with teachers for so long before they return to correcting papers. That being said, most of my time was spent in the senior library reading to prepare for the next day's exam or (after getting tired of that) reading a fiction book. During exam week I read "Anna Karenina" which is my natural mom's favorite book.
It would be so boring to have a post only talking about exams, so I will give an intermission to talk about how I spent my Saturday before exams (my host mom being a teacher dedicated Sunday to studying). First of all, I slept in until 7:30 and then went to breakfast which was simply chapatti with jam. There we tried to come up with some plan for the day. Originally, we were going to go to do grocery shopping but then (after quite a bit of persuading) Shreya and I convinced my host mom to let us go to Ambience mall for a movie. We booked tickets for "IT" and prayed that they would not check to make sure I was 18 (which, of course, I am not) since that was one of the main reasons my host mom was cautious about letting me go. We got an Uber and though we planned to arrive 30 minutes in advance, we made it to Ambience just in time for the movie. That's because it had rained in the morning so though the temperature was nice, the roads around my community were more so small rivers than they were roads. I won't spoil the movie for anyone who hasn't seen 'it' (haha), but it was well put together for a horror movie. Shreya is not easily scared, in fact she found It to be more of a comedy than a horror movie. After that we went to exchange some clothes which (in typical girl fashion) took much longer than it should have. While Shreya shopped, I watched a talent competition that was taking place on the ground floor of the mall. There were some really great dancers and singers who performed, so I was kept entertained. After 1.5 hours Shreya emerged from the shop with one shirt. Nonetheless, we decided to get dinner and headed to the food court. I got Chinese noodles with chili paneer and she got dosa. After eating, the real adventure began as Shreya tried to find a pair of black wedges to wear to the office. She was determined not to leave before finding a pair. We went to more shoe stores than I knew could exist in one location and finally she found a pair that would work. We ended the day by going to Starbucks and (since I don't care for coffee) I got passion hibiscus lemonade which was great but the funny part was that they spelled my name as "Aana" which is so close but yet so far from correct. We rushed to our Uber which had been waiting for about 10 minutes and then made our way home. When we got there we shared the day's happenings with my host mom who loved the shirt Shreya got but was disappointed to see her shoe-a-holic daughter come home with yet another pair of shoes.
Sunday was spent with me 'studying' and my host mom correcting papers. A slow day but relaxing as I spent most of it listening to music and not actually studying.
Of course opposite the exam prep days were the actual exam days. I first took Hindi on Friday the 15th followed by Physical Education, English, Economics, and Fine Arts. Somehow my '"brief synopsis" (why did I even think I was capable of writing anything brief) has strayed a little from the path but I can finally tell you about my experience with exams in India. The exam days are different here in that students have to go for the entire school day for just one exam. There's no allotted time for you to show up and leave like at CPPHS. Of course the exam doesn't take the entire day so the first half is given for 'studying'. Again, I never really studied during that time. I just chatted with friends since I had not been able to the day before. At 10am we had to be in the exam rooms. The exam rooms are based off of your role number and section so I went to the class which had class XI-H role number 19-37 (I am 37). The exams are just given in classrooms with everyone at a separate desk. The exams themselves are separate from the answer booklets (like answer sheets in the US) so they are passed out first. I always had to ask Vriti (my friend who thankfully sat ahead of me) what the name of the Invigilator was because I could never read the names scribbled in cursive on the board (not because I can't read cursive but because I am not that familiar with Indian names so I was never confident I did it correctly). After the bell rings signalling the start of the exam, the question papers are passed out to the students and 3 hours are given for each exam. Most of the time 3 hours is barely enough time to finish these exams but I found it plenty of time for all except economics (mostly because I got a separate exam for PE and Hindi was also really short). The main difference besides the time to question ratio is the style of question. Here there are practically no multiple choice (out of 5 exams only one exam had MCQs but that one too only had 2 of them) and all the questions are short or long answer. Depending on the number of marks the question is worth you write a different amount. For example, a 1 mark question should be one sentence whereas 6+ markers generally need 100-150 words. After 3 hours the exams are collected and often times the exams are not fully completed by all students because there's simply not enough time.
Overall I think I did well on the exams but luckily for me, my grades will transfer back to the US as pass/fail only so it's low stress for me. It is a chance for me to experience a different education system without worrying to much about being the perfect student.
So much more has gone on for me since exams, but that will be for the next post because I can guarantee I have too much to talk about to fit into just this one post.
Hi! My name is Anna McKane. I am 16 years old and have had a pretty ordinary life up to this point. I believe this experience will change me for the better and I will try everything I can while I am abroad.