Apr 27, 2011

On the other side of the exam hall

I had an exam duty today which induced the "I have to wake up early tomorrow" effect last night, that resulted in a disturbed sleep. Though I am neither paid for teaching assistance nor for research assistance, I accepted it since I always wanted to be on the other side of the exam hall.

The exam which I was invigilating for, was for an M.Tech level course, the class of which was split into two to accommodate all the students in two classrooms. I was asked to take care of one of the rooms having 29 students seated in three columns, 18 of which are M.Techs and the rest are research scholars.

The end semester exams are usually conducted for 3 hours. Today's question paper consisted of two parts; while the first part was to be answered in the question paper itself in the space provided, part B alone should be answered in the answer script provided separately. It was boring for me because of this arrangement since not many students asked me for answer scripts, and so I could not move around the classroom.

The only time I found my duty to be interesting was while taking the attendance. The department staff had arranged for two cups of coffee (at an hour interval), and a plate of curd vada, which helped me to pass about 15 spicy minutes.

Though I normally would not turn on my cell phone in an exam hall, I was tempted today to do so, not because I was expecting an important call or text, but only to pass my time. Maybe I should have taken a book or a journal article to spend my time usefully! Would definitely consider this option in future.

So, having nothing much to do, I started observing students. Of the 18 M.Techs, two were girls. 14 out of 16 M.Tech guys were in Tees, while much of the research scholars preferred to wear formals. 7 out of 29 were wearing some kind of sacred thread on their wrist (one guy was wearing a sacred rope!), hoping it will help them to clear the subject or score good grade with minimum effort from their side.

One research scholar had apparently gone to one of the temples located on our campus before he took the exam, for I could see the kumkum on his forehead. Only 4 out of 29 asked for an additional sheet to answer B part of their question paper, which had only two problems. I was alerted with even the slight movements from any of the students, and this must have terrorized one of the M.Tech guy, which made me have a suspicious eye on him.

The professor who offered the course made an announcement nearly after two hours since time, that though the maximum duration for the paper is 3 hours, he had chosen questions such that it can be done in two and half hours. As if the students were waiting for this announcement, many of them came forward to submit their final answer scripts and leave the hall.

It was a great relief because collecting the answer scripts from students (sometimes you will have to snatch it from them) is one of the difficult jobs. My duty ended at 3 hours since time, after I counted the number of answer scripts and hand them over to the professor concerned.