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Why I am not writing my remaining ISC 2020 Exam, and you probably shouldn't too

Updates as of last editing this blog:


  • The Supreme Court has asked CBSE to consider scrapping exams.
  • CISCE has issued a press release making exams optional.
  • The petitioner in the Bombay HC, represented by Adv. Arvind Tiwari raised concerns about the transparency of the formula based marking process. They have stressed on the need to be fair and transparent.
  • The methodology to assess one's marks will be finalised, hopefully by Saturday (21st June, 2020), and shared with schools on Saturday.
  • The same will be heard in court on Monday (23rd June, 2020).
  • A communication regarding the extension of dates will be sent to all Principals today.
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It's been almost 3 months. 3 long months since the Council for Indian Secondary Education (CISCE) abruptly postponed all remaining ICSE and ISC exams indefinitely. Barely 3 hours before the commencement of my last ever school exam, CISCE saw it fit to postpone our exams indefinitely and provided no clarity on whether they would be held or not. I had studied day and night over the previous 3 days, just like I had for my other exams, only to see my breath of freedom be choked, 6 hours before I could begin enjoying the 'last' summer before college.


Major Boards like CIE (A-Levels/ IGCSE) and the International Baccalaureate, in light of the COVID-19 crisis, cancelled their exams first and then began deliberations on how to assess their students' final grades. While my friends who would have otherwise done their A-Levels or IB exams were relatively stress-free because they did not have to face the uncertainty of exams, my ICSE, ISC and CBSE friends have spent 3 months of 'holiday' and lockdown in stress because of the uncertainty. 


Should we study or not? Will there be exams or not? What if I contract or unknowingly transmit the virus when we have an exam? I have 3 exams left; I better start studying in advance! Why were exams cancelled when they were 150 cases and no lockdown but being resumed when cases are at a level that I don't wish to google and check, public transport is barely functioning, I'm scared to even hop into a taxi and people's lives are being destroyed? 


These are all questions that have been asked by people known to me, and all are incredibly valid.


After a quarter of a year of uncertainty and a PIL being filed in the High Court of Bombay, CISCE suddenly issued a press release making exams 'optional'. Why did it take so long, and only issued after a PIL was filed? Did CISCE and our schools think that our exams are more important than our peace of mind for 3 whole months of turbulent emotions? 

But, this blog is not going to be about that. I have decided that I am going to opt out of writing my last exam for many reasons (which may also apply to you, or not, and help you make a decision):


  • The marks do not matter to me, and I am not going to risk myself catching an infection to satisfy my ego of doing better because, and let's be honest, most of us perform better in the Boards than in school exams.
  • I am lucky enough to have a firm offer of admission that allows me to not care about my aggregate score or subject-wise marks.
  • Whatever is the formula CISCE uses to calculate our final grades, I know that I am going to pass, which is all that matters right now. 
  • Even if I wanted to write my exam, two reasons should stop me - 1. I can potentially contract the virus from asymptomatic carriers. 2. I may be an asymptomatic carrier who can transfer the virus to at least 50 people.
  • On principle, writing an exam months after you have finished studying it, when many of us (especially those doing the ICSE or tenth-grade CBSE) have joined new schools/ been promoted to and started classes at a higher grade is just pointless. We are such a marks obsessed nation that it doesn't make sense to write your exam to do better when the scores you achieve give no tangible benefit.
  • If you are concerned that the (formula based) marks may be lower than what you are hoping to achieve, and if they are ever looked at in the future (probably at your post-grad level or something), it may not be in your best interest to skip an exam, well, let me put it this way. Everyone is going to be aware that we were the graduating class of COVID-19 and will make their opinions on our marks and performance keeping in mind that it may not be truly indicative of who we are. So, it doesn't matter, even in the long run.

It is crucial to keep in mind that you may be in a different boat than me. If the following cases apply to you, it makes little sense to skip the exams:

  • You have a conditional offer of admission, and your institution isn't going be flexible with the conditions/ your formula based grades do not meet your requirements.
  • Your admission is dependent on cut-offs, and you will not achieve it with the formula based marks.

I feel that unless your marks have any tangible impacts, it makes no sense to write an exam for the fun of it, and let's be honest, do we want to study for another exam, or in some cases, 3/4/5 of them?


Edit [uploaded at 3:08 PM, 17th June, 2020]


So what should we do now?


  1. If your exam results have absolutely no consequence on your admission into a college, do not write the exam.
  2. If you wish to write an exam, to 'do better', despite not actually being dependent on those marks for anything tangible, ask yourself if you really NEED to, and not whether you WANT to! There is a difference; Remember, that you can potentially transmit or contract the virus to and from the number of candidates attending, and the examiners, who have their own families :)
  3. If your future (college) depends on these marks, wait till the formula methodology is published and calculate your marks. It should be shared with schools on June 20. Push you school to share your marks (or at least an estimate) as soon as they can, to provide clarity. Make a choice based on whether your estimated aggregate or subject-wise marks suit your needs/ conditional offers/ cut off lists.



What do you think? Leave a comment below!







Comments

  1. Good job bro! This is really helpful.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What you say makes a lot of sense. However the decision to call off the exam will not be an easy one. The assessment methods of the international curriculum are very different. Calculation of internal assessment may vary across schools. So the Council understandably is in a bit of a quandary!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fair point regarding the Council being in a bit of a quandary! However, when all other Boards have done it, as early as 3 months ago that too, isn't it finally time for CISCE , CBSE and other Indian Boards to do the same?

      Although the assessment system is different, it's still, to a certain extent defined and uniformly practised by schools, and so is the case with the CISCE. Yes, there will be differences from school to school but that is overlook able if one sees the larger picture, and the health related concerns! The lack of communication and prompt decision making abilities is just adding to the stress of students across the country, many of whom are coming from families already under stress and anxiety because of loss of income/ employment in the family. How much longer can we push through this? :)

      I must add that I am happy and welcome the Council's decision to make exams optional. Using COVID-19 lingo, I hope that 'non-essential' students (as I like to call them), i.e. for those who these marks do not matter (if you're in tenth grade/ already have a firm offer of admission for uni/ your formula based marks are satisfactory for your uni), do not turn up at the exam hall! Let's make it safer for the 'essential students', and our examiners to turn up and reduce the risk of spreading the disease.

      Delete
  3. Fabulous!!! Well written, super clarity of thought, articulated perfectly. Extremely valid points raised on the futility of judgement by marks alone. You rock my friend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind comments and encouraging words, Mr. Haydon!

      Delete

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