Is the mouse mightier than the pen?

Is the mouse mightier than the pen?

Is the mouse mightier than the pen?

Aakash Chaudhry weighs the pros and cons of the emerging trend of online entrance examinations .

Examination authorities have introduced many reforms in the past few years, like the online mode of examination in addition to the traditional mode and standardisation of examination to a two-tier structure for the admissions. This is being practised in all reputed engineering institutions including the IITs, NITs, IIITs and other centrally-funded technical institutes. It has changed the way students approach exams today.

After the online mode was introduced for AIEEE in a few metros, the responses received from the students were mixed. This mode of exams was introduced taking into consideration those students who had to travel to take offline exams if the option was not available in their cities. This move evoked some initial apprehensions, because of the fear of the unknown. 

However, the number of students believing only in the traditional mode of exams is gradually declining because the preparation for the online form of appearing for the exams is the same and ultimately offers the same sense of achievement as the traditional method. As a consequence, the number of students appearing for online exams has increased considerably and is expected to grow further. The online mode is at present available for Paper I of JEE Main. However, Paper II, JEE Advanced, is offline. Considering the rage of the online mode of examination, there are now mobile applications available to prepare students for exams like GATE, or that of VIT, BITS and Manipal. Several other entrance exams are also expected to follow suit. 

The authorities are making amendments to drive a greater number of students to switch to this mode which makes the exam more transparent and helps cut down on time and money required to conduct the examination.

Although giving online examinations does not appear to be a difficult task, it has its advantages and disadvantages. It is crucial for every student to be well acquainted with the online examination skills and technology. Taking online mock tests before going for the final exam is necessary as it will help the student to become well-acquainted with the online system and will give a practical idea of dos and don’ts. Also, it will ensure better preparation.

Advantages for choosing the online mode of examination are manifold. Multiple examination date options are available for taking the examination. There is a fixed duration for the instruction page to be displayed and this does not form a part of the examination time. 

As the exams are automated, technical snags will be compensated for. When you are attempting online exams, usually, you can see on the screen the questions answered, unanswered and marked for review.  The fee for the online exams is lower than that for the offline mode. The online mode of examinations lessens the anxiety of the students as they can take it in the comfort of their houses on their computers instead of sitting in a room full of people. It is a time-saving process and takes a simple click to answer questions. 

It gives instant feedback to the students and has environmental benefits such as reduced usage of paper. Besides, the online mode of exam offers improved accessibility to students with disabilities.

However, it also has a few disadvantages like it takes a little extra time to fill the particulars of the students; the lack of an invigilator means there is no one to alert you about the time remaining; besides, checking an answer on some other page can be time consuming. 

The authorities have been encouraging the online mode of examinations as they are hassle-free and can be attempted from the comfort of their own cities. For instance, any JEE Main aspirant has to fill the application online. There is no provision to submit this in offline mode to a centre. This step would inculcate the use of internet in students in smaller towns and rural areas. 

It further indicates the CBSE Board’s intent to develop this examination in a completely online mode. Also the pen and paper-based exams are not conducted in most of the cities, which is where the online mode scores over its traditional counterpart. This means a lot more students will be seen reaping the benefits of taking the exams online in coming years.

(The author is Director, Aakash Educational Services)