Is negative score good?

DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Feb 10, 2019, 12:38 am IST
Updated Feb 10, 2019, 12:38 am IST
The threat of negative marks will never allow intuition to grow in a student,” the judge remarked.
The order was delivered on a petition filed in 2013 by Nelson Prabhakar, who couldn’t qualify IIT-JEE.  (Representative Image)
 The order was delivered on a petition filed in 2013 by Nelson Prabhakar, who couldn’t qualify IIT-JEE. (Representative Image)

The students of 12th standard go through a very tough time. They are fully loaded with school and tuition classes, and have to face entrance examinations once the board exams are over. The students are more worried about the negative marking scheme of the entrance examinations. For every wrong answer, one mark will be deducted. The Madras High Court has ordered that the negative marking system should be abolished from competitive exams. Justice R. Mahadevan remarked that the system would discourage the students. The order was delivered on a petition filed in 2013 by Nelson Prabhakar, who couldn’t qualify IIT-JEE.

The court further stated that the students come from various strata of society and so, negative marking is against the principles of fairness, equality and equity. The system will discourage the students from making a calculated guess in their lives and restrict their risk aptitude, the court observed. “Everyone comes across a situation in life where decisions are taken purely out of intuition. ... The threat of negative marks will never allow intuition to grow in a student,” the judge remarked.

 

Does the court verdict feel like a welcome move? Will it induce more boldness and develop a sense of intuition in the students? As most of the developed countries don’t follow the system, should we abolish it at the earliest? Or as the CBSE claims, will the system ensure that only deserving candidates get selected? Should students qualify exams merely due to the luck factor?

Only the best should qualify

Shaarika menon, psychologist
Not every child is the same. The goal of entrance exams is to assess the knowledge of students, discouraging scores distended by random guesswork. There is always an amount of stress involved in exams. The best way to tackle it is careful and diligent preparation and smart answering techniques. ‘Intelligent guessing’ is what the court stresses upon. But does encouraging it necessarily mean he/she would earn a command over the subjects and deserve a seat? This practice may create the tendency to guess and increase the chances of students who have not worked hard. The question still remains if the negative markings actually do eliminate the tendency to take risk. The reservation system offers a huge concession to a category of students, as they only need to score 30 marks as compared to 75 for a general category student. The negative marking may help in eliminating ill prepared candidates.

Students to avoid risk
Raju. V, Retd. Headmaster

Negative marking scheme in competitive exams like NEET should be abolished. The time allotted to answer a question is limited and the nervous students can easily go wrong. Secondly, even if one scores good marks, because of negative marking the ranking may drop. For example, boy A answered 90 questions correctly and left 10 questions. He will get a score of 90. Boy B answered 90 questions correctly and attempted 10 questions wrongly. He will get a score of 80 only. The negative marks affected the career of the second boy even though both are brilliant. The system will reduce the problem-solving capacity of students and in life, they will always be afraid to face challenges.

Anxiety will decrease

Dr Mamta Shah, psychologist
Exams cause anxiety and stress to anyone. Some amount of stress can help the individual, but too much of it can affect one's performance in examinations. The emotional consequences can lead to severe anxiety. Test anxiety is a combination of psychological and physiological manifestations. It's a situation where one feels tests/exams as a threat. Understanding the causes of exam stress can help individuals understand their emotions and regulate their stress and anxiety levels. There are pros and cons to the negative marking scoring system. On the one hand, it would discourage students from guessing, which can increase the reliability of their test results. On the other hand, students with test anxiety often tend to second guess their responses even if they know the answers, leading to guessing in the examination that may lower their chances of success due to negative scoring. Nevertheless, eradicating the negative scoring system would definitely decrease test anxiety in students and help them be more confident in their responses and themselves.

It is helpful
Divya Rustagi, Teacher

Today, competitive exams are highly important. They are designed and structured in a way, which assess knowledge, ability to manage time and smartness level. Negative scoring does create a level of nervousness and anxiety, but this is imperative for anybody to prepare for future encounters. The system improves decision-making ability. It brings everybody on a common platform and I feel that the negative marking system should be there.

Score is not everything

Prianka Padhi, Psychologist
It is not the score, either positive or negative, it is a kind of feedback about a student's work and effort. The ultimate goal of any grading system is to provide students with incentives (positive and/or negative) to influence their level of motivation and engagement, thus advancing their academic performance. In practice, however, assessment per marking seems to be the end goal, the potential rewards, (i.e. good grades) students seek to gain and the negative consequences (i.e. poor grades) they try to avoid depending solely on their extrinsic motivation toward the learning task. There should be various other ways to make a student overcome their wrong answering, if not, the negative marking or penalties associated with this element of assessment would have adverse psychological impact on students’ intrinsic motivation and their learning goal with respect to the actual content of the course.

It’s not the solution
Rahul Gabriel Roy, student
There are certain exams like JEE Advanced where the competition is ever growing. Negative marking helps in making a clear distinction there. It is easier to choose from the large pool of promising students when such a method is in place. It helps curb the problem of having a higher number of applicants for a limited number of seats. But the reasons stated,  such as, 'discouraging students',  'students not being able to get into prestigious colleges', are not fair.  Everyone would prefer studying in a prestigious college. Negative marks or no negative marks, only a limited number can make it into a particular institution for obvious reasons. In my opinion, passing such an order is an easy way out of a humongous problem.

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