Off school – VIII: Testing time

In our “Off school” series, we had hoped to cover most aspects of lockdown schooling. Now, half way through the academic year, more experiences are emerging that need to be heard.

Posted by “A public school teenager” based in Delhi

‘Online classes’ – a replacement for day-to-day schooling for students to ensure that their education remains unaffected in spite of the pandemic. Sadly, it’s not working. Students who have a short attention span such as me, tend to zone out and retort to other online activities while classes are on. But that is not the end of it. Not even close.

The economy is hitting rock bottom, millions are dying, unemployment and starvation are rampant. But guess what? Exams are still on! This is like the movie Avengers: Infinity War. Spiderman, Black Panther and the disappearing heroes symbolise all the sources of social happiness. And then ‘Exams’, in the form of Thanos stands mightily with an evil smile and says, “I am inevitable.”

I am in tenth standard. The bored class that will have to take the ‘Board Exams’. I hope God will let us skip purgatory before ascending to heaven as a reward for tolerating this injustice. My mid year exams just got over. The only thing which makes sense when it comes to examination is the competitive spirit it brings in. And now even that doesn’t make sense.

Cheaters exist. Teachers have spotted textbooks in the background of answer-sheets. And some people l know are literally typing out the whole question on Google Chrome. People take pictures of their notes on the phone. They seem to be reading the question paper, but they are carefully copying answers. These are the kids who should be the ones in the school’s roll of honour, not those nerds. And I’m pretty sure there are even better ‘unfair means’. Alas! My stupid conscience will not let me use any of these.

My beloved parents and teachers expect me to take this seriously. I have a good time biting my lips when they ask me why am I not getting all straight ‘A’s, even when I ‘claim’ to memorise every little thing. They don’t trust me very much, can’t really blame them though. Now, I hope they get to know what all happen when I’m writing the paper.

I am bad at handling pressure. Parents are tense in the exam season anyways. And things are slowly getting out of hand. Grandma makes me wear a dahi ka teeka (small curd dot on the forehead) and I’m forced to pray to Gods and Goddesses from various religions. There are times when my parents are nowhere to be found when I need someone to sign my answer-sheet. And without fail, my mom walks in asking if I had finished my exam, while me and my dad are panicking to make the pdf and submit it.

These days invigilators are not teachers but IT Dept guys who handle communication and reports. They compile our grades and all. But they don’t know a thing about any subject other than computer science. Even in “non-COVID” normal circumstances, I panicked now and then during exams and a couple of ‘B’s would end up on my report card. But online exams are at a whole new level of scaring the heck out of me. The invigilators are as loud as those kawaria trucks with loudspeakers playing low quality EDM. After the first exam, me and some others had to remind them about the existence of the mute button.

I can’t blame our invigilators for not being interested in a bunch of teenagers who are writing down random bits of knowledge on a piece of paper. They are quite friendly. But they just don’t know how an exam works. Put simply, this is quite a nightmare. Turns out my friends in the other sections have it worse. So, there is a girl named Chandni. Her video froze for a bit. The invigilator yelled, “Chandni, tumhaare video ko kya hua?” (Chandni, what happened to your video?”). Someone from the background began singing off-key the old Bollywood number “Chandni raat mein… ” (“One moonlit night…”). So much for the ‘Board Class’.

In every exam something inevitably goes wrong – my wi-fi malfunctions, the electricity supply is cut, dad’s phone camera doesn’t open, Adobe Scan hangs up or the phone restarts. Usually, I’m the first to finish and have time to revise. But with online exams, my bad luck has got upgraded to double platinum level.

With autumn, I just hope that this Corona virus mutates into being susceptible to cold temperature and dies out. Or some genius discovers a successful vaccine. The way things are going, I’ll become a complete shut-in who just eats, sleeps and stares at the laptop. I never thought I will say this – I am just so dying to go to school and give a ‘real exam’.

Cover image : Author
Story images : Top – NYTimes, Rest – Author

Standard Disclaimer : The story contributors are responsible for all views and facts provided in their posts. Lockdown Voices and its editorial team is not accountable for the accuracy of the information posted.

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