Examination is a necessary evil. They cannot be completely done away with. In any education system, they must occupy an important place. Yet the way and the form in which they are held need reform. There are so many serious defects in the present system of examination that their purpose is completely defeated. They fail in measuring the progress of students. Many ways of reforming the examination system have been suggested. One is the setting of objective-type questions, instead of the present system in which the questions require long, essay-type answers. In this way, it becomes possible to cover the whole course and personal factor is eliminated. This method has been used so far with success in pre-medical and other competitive examinations. But its great drawback is that it does not develop the expressive power of the students. Careful thinking is necessary before objective tests are introduced in schools and colleges.
At present, examinations have become meaningless, for there is copying on a mass scale. Copying is rampant even in the cities, and in the best of institutions. Students take with them into the examination hall cheap bazaar notes and copy out the answers from them. If the invigilators try to prevent the use of such unfair means, they are threatened with dire consequences. In the rural areas, conditions are much worse. There copying is organized by teachers and other interested parties, with the active connivance of the school authorities, examination superintendents, principals etc. Answers are dictated in the examination halls or written out on the black-boards.
Therefore, there is urgent need for the over-hauling of the present system of examinations. Various measures of reforms have been suggested from time to time. One of the suggestions is that students should be allowed to take books of their choice into the examination hall, and make free use of them. Questions should be so framed that those students alone who are well up in the subject and have studied their books would be able to find out the right answers. Moreover, as the number of questions would be pretty large, the examinees would not get much time to search out the answers in their books. This again would make previous preparation essential. In this way, the whole course would be covered up and examinees would be obliged to make due preparations. As books would be freely allowed, the problem of mass copying or the use of unfair means would cease to exist. It would be automatically solved.
Thus there is much to be said in favor of ‘open book examination. However, this system should be introduced with great caution. Initially, it should be introduced on a very limited scale, and its scope may then be widened in the light of the experience thus acquired. Intelligent framing of questions is crucial for the success of this system. A number of government department such as the C.D.A., P.W.D. etc., have been holding such examinations for many years. The experience gained by them can be of great value and many pitfalls can be avoided if they are consulted before this innovation is introduced in schools and colleges of the country. Much depends on the integrity and efficiency of teachers who will have to implement and work out the scheme.
Introduction of continuous internal evolution has also found favor with most expert committees. Delhi University has taken the initiative in this regard. The first and second year examinations would now be conducted by the respective college themselves while the first year and second year examinations would consist of 10 percent and 15 percent mark, the rest of the 75 percent marks would be given on the basis of the third year examinations which would be conducted by the university. For the under graduate honors and post graduate courses, 25 percent marks would be given on the basis of internal assessment.
However, in the most of the universities in the country, teaching, learning and examinations have been so mechanized that no one wants to change or accept new challenges. Besides, uniform standard of evaluation are adopted throughout the country, isolated cases will not create faith in the reforms. The existing examination system has functioned largely as a process of filtration rather than as an instrument for raising the quality of education. It is not that the internal evaluation system is not without any demerits. Many still consider the present examination system as an inescapable necessity. On the whole, examination reformer would be meaningful only when it reaches the core of the education process.