Why we need to get over national exam grades

  • Kathleen Gialluca, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 06, 2015 13:44 IST

From families of hard working students to university lecturers, everyone passionately cares about national exam grades and acceptance into professional colleges. Indian graduates, fresh from spending most of their lives studying, now find themselves competing for jobs in an increasingly globalised economy with international employers.

But there are increasing indications that the intense focus on national exam grades is not converting to a competitive edge on the global stage. In the three widely regarded global university rankings of 2013 – the Shanghai Ranking, QS World University Ranking and Times Higher Education Ranking (THE) – India has no institution in the top 200.

With over a million young Indians competing for just a few thousand places in top state-run engineering, business and medical colleges every year, it is no surprise that many Indian teenagers spend so much of their time preparing for exams. But despite this incredible dedication, India ranked 71 out of 73 nations in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests in 2012 – the exam that measures the performance of 15-year-olds – and pulled out of the programme the following year.

So along with a continued focus on how well students – both at school and as adults in professional certification exams – are competing nationally within India, it could be time for institutions, professional bodies and employers to reassess how we assess. This means considering the rigour and quality of the exams themselves so that Indian degrees and professional qualifications have global credibility.

Pearson VUE is hosting a free webinar exploring how to measure exam success on March 11, 2015 at 4:30pm. For details visit http://pear.sn/IsSAI.

The author is a psychometrician and senior research scientist at global computer-based testing leader Pearson VUE.

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