Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Exam Time

Writing a paper and pencil exam. Without a word of preparation. Priceless.

Infosys encourages us to undertake a certification exam every 6 months. This exam can either be internal or external. You just accumulate more points when you take an external test.

By now, you know how we chai-buddies inspire each another as we consume awesome filter coffee and tea twice a day at Hatti-Kaapi. This is where crazy ideas are encouraged and exchanged. Some months ago, the brightest among our lot encouraged me to complete an external certification exam. After brief thought, I decided to listen to Mr. Bright and give it a twirl.

Another colleague handed over the exam material. It weighed 3 kg. Thrice I opened the first page only to fall asleep in 5 minutes. Next I glanced through the table of contents to fathom if I could 'reverse-engineer' the details. No luck there. I randomly picked pages for numerical problems. The 3 kg monster was pure theory.

4 months whirred by without a single word of preparation.

The exam day arrived last weekend. That morning, it took me 20 minutes to find two pencils, a sharpener and an eraser. There was no pencil box to put this stuff in, so Priya lent me a pouch that holds her cooling glasses. I also carried her old solar calculator from her B.Com days. The hall ticket was printed just 5 minutes before starting the car. When I finally took the test, answers were determined through logic gleaned from Calvin and Hobbes comic strips, 'strategic' sounding words, inky-pinky-ponky methods and pure coin tosses. In the past, I would spend the last 15 minutes of any exam in reviewing answers. This time, there was so such conflict. Masala Dosa at Adigas next door vs. 15 minutes for review? Coin tosses are not wasted on such obvious choices.

Looking back, I wouldn't have scripted this experience better. Lack of preparation for an exam was an unknown phenomenon for me until now. While never a topper, I would always finish near the top. Preparation was the key. (What choice - other than preparation - do you have when you belong to a traditional middle-class South Indian family where cousins get nothing less than multiple gold medals?) And now, with nothing to lose, the entire experience was such a rush of joy. Maybe that is why Anupam Kher's speech resonated so well last night.
So Mr. Bright, what's your next big idea?


smitha said...

Loved this one...Reminds me of how Dinesh prepares for his certification xams...what matters at the EOD is whether he cleared it or not..The preparation is minimal...:)

Arun Kumar said...

I can imagine Smitha that the experience is no different across us folks. The more you age, the more the monstrous books intimidate :)