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The new pattern for testing undergraduate students pursuing their B.Tech course in JNTU was announced during November,2008. Initially, the external examination pattern was set up as 5 questions to be answered out of 8 and the as per the new pattern, all 8 questions are to be answered with an internal choice. Though initially welcomed with an awe of surprise, shock, amazement and a little hope for betterment, this novel pattern has also been accompanied by certain level of disagreement from the students’ point of view.

During an exam... Credit: Mystical Tara

During an exam... Credit: Mystical Tara

The proposed new pattern of examination for the B.Tech students had mainly undergone major changes at 2 levels : one at the level of internal assessment and the other at the level of external assessment. The existing pattern of mid examination tested the students in 2 ways. One being the subjective, written examination where the student had to choose to answer 3 questions out the 5 given, and each of them carried 20 marks. The final score would then be scaled down to 20 for each subject. The prevalence of sets was an add-on feature to this. The second was the online objective type examination which comprised of 20 equi-scoring questions. At the end, the best of 3 examinations for the semester-wise assessment, and the best of 5 examinations for the annual assessment would be taken into account.

As for the end examination, the students had to answer 5 out of the given 8 questions, each carrying 16 marks. The new idea that has been approved to be introduced deals with transforming the entire perspective of what, so far, was being practiced. It has been designed keeping in mind the following major fallacies:
$ absence of a uniform assessment at the internal level due to the prevailing  set system;
$ failure of the online (objective) assessment as a result of the students’ inappropriate access to the question bank;
Although these are only a few of the major discrepancies that might have effected the JNTU examination system for B.Tech students, it is believed that there must be several other, though minor, reasons for going ahead with this rock-solid decision. Coming to the changes that have been actually forced into the existing system, as mentioned earlier, it has been introduced at 2 levels. At the level of internal assessment, the students have to answer 4 questions out of the given 6 questions for the subjective exam, each of only 5 marks, which will as well comprise of a common paper for all the students of a branch (i.e.there is no set system). Also, one would be attending 2 exams per day, which means that the mid examinations would be spanning only for 3 days.

Apart from this, the students also have to answer a ‘bit-paper’, with 10 multiple choice questions, 5 ‘fill-in-the-blank’ sort of questions, 5 ‘true/false’ or ‘match-the-following’ sort of questions. But the punch line is actually yet to follow, and it lies in the fact that the final score of internal assessment would be a result of the ‘average’ of ‘all’ the mid-exams….poof!! (Hmm…that sure does squeeze the heck out of anyone if they were thinkin’ that burning the midnight oil jus’a day before the exam for either of the mids would jus’ do…aint it…?!) What could be worse was plainly left to the external assessment. It was proclaimed that students would have to answer ‘all’ of the 8 questions given, each of them carrying 10 marks, in the stipulated time. Not the mid-exam pattern, but the end-exam pattern did, for sure, wave in turbulences in the student community and a strike was to be held on tuesday, the 10th of Feb.,2009.

But having been alerted of the agony of the students’ regarding such a provoking transformation, the Examination Board of JNTU was generous enough to withdraw their decision (only regarding the change in end-exam pattern). Following this, Dr.G.K.Viswanadh, Professor of Civil Engg & DIRECTOR OF EVALUATION, announced officially that there will be no change in the existing pattern of B.Tech University Examinations. The students have to answer any five out of eight questions as usual and four sets of question papers system would continue. This has been as well posted on the official website of JNTU. As a result, the strike was called off and an air of relief was felt among the students. Following the introduction of the new pattern, the students as well as lecturers have shown varied reactions to the same. While some have offered rave responses, few others don’t seem to be quite happy with this change!

Upon being asked about the efficiency of the novel examination pattern, this is what different people had to say : Mounica, a 2nd year CSE student from Geetanjali Engineering College believes that the old system was better a sthey could obtain the objective questions for the online exam, while Swati, one of her peers from Tirumala Engineering College believes that this system is better as it saves time and seems effortless. Mithali, a 3rd year Biotechnology student from Malla Reddy Engineering College agrees with Swati as she says,”I feel th enew system is pretty good as we don’t have to write long essay-like answers for 5 marks as we did earlier. Also, 2 exams a day, though a little strenuous, sounds like great relief to me.”

The freshers, that is, the first year students, however, do not seem to have reacted much as it is their beginning and not any sort of change for them. “I don’t understand how they can change the system for students who have already completed 1 or 2 years of their course through a different pattern… I thought it was against the norms. But I am happy to see that the burden on my students has been relieved a lot”, says Ms. Visalakshi, Assistant Professor, Biotechnology Department, Malla Reddy Engineering College. Upon being enquired about the continuance of this system, Dr. Ramana Kumar, Assistant Professor, Biotechnology Department, Malla Reddy Engineering College, who as well hails from the Examination Department of the same college, enlightened us by saying,” Though the JNTU Examintion Board has refrained from changing the pattern of the University end exams, the status of the mid-exam pattern is still undecided.

It might either revert back to the old system, but for the objective paper, or it might continu to be what it is now.” As a last word, it is worth mentioning in this context that while the whole was takin’ a dip in recession, the Academic Directors at JNTU never withheld from their decision of striving to improve the quality of student examination and assessment. This, as they believe (and so do several others), should be an affirmative step towards developing a promising quality of education at the graduate level in the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad!!

And as the transformational president has rightly quoted,” Change. Yes, we can!”…..

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