Exam over….

Those who know me in poly would know that I’m quite good in programming. I always score high marks for my programming project. But I never got a AD for any modules. Because my grades were being pulled down during the exam.

You see, I’m a practical guy. I learn things thru hands-on. I do things better when you give me a compiler and a sample rather than read from the books and notes. I still remember sometime in poly year 2 when I keep skipping COBOL lectures and tutorial. When assignment is here, I simply borrow a few sample tutorial answer from my friend, try out the coding with the compiler and I got an A for the assignment. I learn things better when I do trial and error.

But I’m never good at theory. I can write wonderful programs, but when you ask me to explain the concept in words, I’m dead. That’s why exams always pull my grades down.

But why exam? Why should we be graded based on a 3 hour written exam? What can an exam proof? Can it proof that you understand the subject? Can it proof that you know the concept? What skill do we gain from taking exam?

Most people study for exam by memorising the textbook. It is not the understanding of the subject. Its how much you can memorise. And trust me, I’ve seen people memorising the textbook WORD BY WORD, PAGE BY PAGE. You can even give them the page number and they can tell you what is the 3rd word on the 2nd paragraph!!!

This is the type of student that exam are breeding us into. It test us on our memory. On how much you can remember and how much you can throw into the answer booklet within that few hours. End of the day, its a test on memory, not on the subject.

Then there are some people who study past year paper and try to spot questions. In fact, tutors also encourage students to do that. The revision lecture will most likely contains questions and answer of previous exams and the tutors will often give his/her predictions of the type of questions that will come out. But, are we testing our knowedge of the subject or are we testing how well we can spot questions? Have you ever wonder why those ‘O’ and ‘A’ level 10 years series are selling like hotcakes?

Something is really wrong. Why are we being tested on our memory and skill of spotting questions when it should be testing our knowedge and how we apply it? I’ve seen people who score an A for programming subjects but still struggle with a “do while” loop.

So I went into the exam hall today with not much confidence. The whole entire paper is on theory. There is no programming or whatsoever. Just theory, plain old theory. And for that 3 hours, we are expected to throw on the answer booklet whatever we can remember from the 4 months of lessons.

Name 4 applications for XML
eeerr…. I can’t remember…. I think the notes say…. eerrr… skip first, come back later….

List down the 3 difference between DOM and SAX
AH!!! I remember this….
DOM is conceptually more difficult compared to SAX.
DOM is more readable and maintainable compared to SAX.
DOM need more memory for processing.


But wait…. What is DOM? What is SAX?
What are the uses? When do you need to use it? How do you apply them?

I don’t know. I can score perfect 6 marks for questions related to DOM and SAX, but I don’t know what the heck is it.

But then, who cares? So long as you get the marks for that question, who cares if you don’t know what is it?


  1. Name 4 applications for XML
    1. Makes me look smart in my resume when I say I know XML
    2. Marketting lingo to people who don’t know better “We employ XML technology in our application.”
    3. To show off to art students who know how to use XML but have no idea what it stands for.
    4. To fool the boss by making it look like you’re really coding an application

  2. complain about examination ….
    ya .ya I want to join in…..
    tell you hoa….
    my brother is a very clever boy and you may even said he is talented ,
    any subject that i encounter problem i will consult him,believe or not , most of the time he is able to tell me the answer even if he is a year younger than me,
    but in terms of examination results, he never score more that 80
    reasons for two :
    1) his writing is slow,never complete all questions before in his exam
    2) never give up mindset….he will never leave blank in answer column , died died must figure out the answer even if take half an hour just to score 3 point….

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