This worry and fear is because now and then, our public exams are wrought with incidences that are beyond the students’ or parents’ doing, but affect them dearly nevertheless. Incidences in recent years include the leakage of exam questions that resulted in the resitting of papers.
Questions set were faulty in terms of content, syllabus or grammar, and multiple-choice questions provided no correct answers which confused the candidates. The distribution of wrong question papers in some centres also resulted in students being quarantined for hours.
Examinations can be an enjoyable experience if all those involved play their part responsibly and with dedication.
Most recently, it was reported that the SPM-level Chinese Language comprehension passages had appeared in the UPSR Chinese Language paper!
No doubt the authorities acted quickly each time to contain and limit the damage done.
Parents were reassured that the marking and grading of the affected papers would take into consideration the “mistakes” made.
This is all very well and with good-intention but, unfortunately, it happens once too often! I venture to argue that those who are managing exams must reckon that they are in for a zero-defect business.
The responsibility is heavy and no excuses can absolve them of their carelessness or lack of foresight in anticipating probable problems. It is not out of order to expect that exams have to be foolproof as they had been in years gone by.
We need quality teachers and officials of the highest integrity to be in charge at all levels of exam management, from the drafting, formatting and selection of questions to the final printing and packaging of the exam papers.
These teachers and officials should have adequate knowledge of the subject(s) they teach or oversee. They must have sufficient field experiences, meaning they have spent enough years in classroom teaching and/or supervision of the subject(s).
These classroom experiences will give them knowledge and understanding of what are fair questions for the candidates to answer and (even) for teachers to teach. In addition, exam officials should learn the basic management skills and safety measures to coordinate meticulously the process of getting those exam papers printed, packaged and distributed efficiently to all exam centres.
Unfortunately, if I may say so, the learning curve for teachers and officials involved in exam matters has to be steep. They do not have all the time to hone or sharpen their skills.
Demanding it may sound, they have to get it right the first time. Just remember that the students who are sitting a paper in an exam have just that one and only chance to do their best and enjoy the experience.
The teachers and officials in charge of exam have the responsibility and moral obligation to get all the settings right for these students.
Examinations can be an enjoyable experience and not a stressful one if all parties involved play their part responsibly and with dedication.