Illustration by Aamnah Arshad
Illustration by Aamnah Arshad

As examinations are approaching, we will soon hear chants of grades and positions all around us in schools and homes. Well, exams are designed to assess the understanding of all that a student has studied throughout the year. Now let’s focus on the terms “understanding” and “year.”

The scores and grades of exams are a result of the accumulated efforts that students put into their studies throughout the year. So when parents, teachers and others praise or criticise students, all their struggles and efforts put in from the first day of the term should be taken into account. Unfortunately, adults tend to ignore this fact and it all narrows down to the final exams and its marks. Also, to top it off, we are more concerned about the highest marks, top positions and distinctions, and whoever does not achieve at least one of these, does not even get a fraction of the attention.

But why are we wired this way?

One of the biggest reasons for competition among students is the greed for attention. And it’s not only high marks that we compete for, in fact competition has become a part of our daily life, involving all aspects. The phenomenon which once existed only in sports is now inculcated in our behaviour. This high-tech world and innovations have made us greedy for more and more materialistic possessions.

Ask your parents about how happy they were when they used to get Rs.5 for their pocket money. Now reflect upon yourself and your pocket money, which must be in thousands, but it still isn’t enough, right?

Yes, times have changed and we need to be socially active, and for that we need to work hard to build a good image. But that does not really happen by being known for possessing materialistic things, but it happens when one is known as a kind and generous person.

Unfortunately, we are still in the process of learning and adopting modern-day teaching that is being practiced around the world. Thus our students are stuck with reading long chapters and writing even longer answers, and that’s the only thing we are marked on. But other things should be assessed too. Stepping into the practical world requires confidence, some soft skills and the conceptual knowledge of relevant subjects.

Hence, the next time you are competing against your classmates, do remember to take into account all of your and their skills too. One might be great in writing down answers, but not have good presentation skills. Or, one might be a genius in mathematics, but they might struggle in geography, while there might be students who would be great in music and arts, and would not perform that well in academics.

All these situations are fine, because no one has ever been or can ever be perfect. So if you want to have a competition, have it with yourself. Look into your weaknesses and work on them throughout the year so that your result speaks of your hard work. Compare yourself to your older versions to see the growth within you. When parents and teachers start comparing you with your others, remind yourself about your strengths.

To all our high achievers, well done! We are proud of you, but to all the readers out there, let’s not forget that each year many students appear for exams, while the ranks are only a few. So, let’s pledge to not compare and compete with others, but instead compete with ourselves to become better versions of ourselves!

All the very best! You all will nail it!

Published in Dawn, Young World, May 4th, 2024

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