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A taste of the tests

The school examination season is upon us. The BP and anxiety levels are shooting up. For parents, that is.  The children are mercifully cool. But for how long? It’s only a matter of time before the madness of parents gets to them, too.

To lessen the burden on lessons, here’s a carefully prepared manual on various subjects and how to tackle the examinations. The underlying idea is that since the students will be busy readying for their exams, they will not be reading this. Well, if they did, well, God is great.


The language paper offers the highest creative challenge to any student because the person in charge of correcting the paper is not going to read what has been written in the answer sheet. This seems to be some kind of UN-sanctioned universal rule. And marks are generally awarded in English on the basis of the critical academic criteria called: Teacher’s whim. Teachers don’t read the answer sheets for an equally important reason: They are bored to death.

For all practical purposes, it is impossible to say what convinces the English teacher. But mostly, having a fancy roll number and a smart name works. Avoid boring names like Balakumar. English teachers are generally unimpressed with such stuff.

The beauty of English writing is that it allows a world of scope for ingenuity and imagination, otherwise defined as nonsense. Shakespeare, for instance, never seemed to wait for the right word to describe things. He just thought up new words according to his fancy and spelled them in his own random way. He was one person who was not sure of the spelling of his own name. The world is still debating whether he was Shakespeare or Shakespere? To be or not to be was his dilemma, which the Prince of Denmark later copied.

Practical suggestion for exams: Practise your luck before sitting for the English paper.


Apparently physics experts are not sure whether the apple that is supposed to have fallen on Newton’s head indeed led to the discovery of gravity or left him in a state of dazed delirium. And that is perhaps why they keep probing succession of students to verify the value of gravitational pull.

The chosen way in physics lab to figure out the value of gravity is through an experiment named simple pendulum, where a small spherical ball made to dangle through a cord and is allowed to oscillate in a random manner, while students write down the numbers they had memorized beforehand to arrive at the value of the gravity. Nobody has bothered to actually check the value of gravity now and that is why it is still stuck on 9.806 metres per second every second despite the mounting inflation and deathly recession.

The more practical method of deducing the value of gravity would be to ingeniously involve the very same metal sphere in the simple pendulum experiment and bang it at the physics teacher. The size of the resultant concussion on his head will help us arrive at the precise force of gravity. But this Newtonian experiment is now out of fashion.

Physics also involves a bucket-load of theorems, postulations and experiments that seek to explain the many laws that govern this universe, the chief of which is: Things learned in physics class is difficult to remember after.

Practical suggestion for exams: Believe in God. Even Einstein did. At any rate, they say God never fails. Ok, he hasn’t taken the IIT entrance test.


Chemistry is the advanced branch of science that has been dealing with the sms language even before ordinary telephone had been invented. Only such a reasoning has the rationality to explain the use of termslike CH3COOH, C4H10, MnO2, which for a lay person can come across as the notation of someone who is incapable of differentiating between numerals and letters.

Students are also called to determine, in labs, whether a particular ‘salt’ is ‘nitrate’ or ‘phosphate’ or ‘sulphate’ or the left over of what the rat ate. These experiments are conducted to enhance the skills of young students in killing time, for which there will be plenty of opportunity if they major in chemistry.

There are two branches of chemistry — organic chemistry and the chemistry that dance masters keep talking about in reality shows. Experiments involving the latter chemistry fall under the ambit of human biology.

The life story of Madam Curie, who married a fellow scientist, underscores the importance of having good chemistry. For her efforts, Curie is remembered through an extremely dangerous radioactive element named after her.

Practical suggestion for exams: Remember Curie. It’s an ungrateful world.


It is generally believed that all biological experiments somehow involve the dissection of sticky innards of a frog. This is an erroneous conclusion as biologists also vivisect rats, as it is well established that any clinical trial on rats can also hold true for humans by simply reducing two legs from the equation. The formula is: DNA of a human: xxxx. DNA of a rat: xxxxx + two legs.

Talking of DNA, it is the non-negotiable, non-alterable template of any creature, which the biologists are trying to alter.

Biology basically consists of two streams, zoology, dealing with animals, and botany, dealing with things eaten when extremely desperate and hungry by the animals dealt in zoology.

Practical suggestion for exams: All biological experiments cannot be attempted inside a class or at least in front of the teacher.


This is most precise science in the world, except when you are actually trying to solve a mathematical problem. And, of course, never mind the fact that there is no one finite value to pi, which is at the core of all mathematical equations, leading to major discoveries, including one by students, who cut the maths lecture and experiment with psychotropic substances.

Mathematics classes also call for use of logarithmic table, which is a convenient and handy tool because it provides space to students to slyly write down many other formulae and equations for ‘copying’ during the examinations.

The important magic formula for mathematics students to remember is QED, using this at the end of any sum somehow conjures the right answer. Hence proved, I should say.

Practical suggestions for exams: Mathematics is all about numbers. It helps to remember the exam date.

Accountancy and Economics

Accountancy is basically wonderful fiction through the difficlut and rare medium of numerals. They say numbers don’t lie. Well, they haven’t laid their eyes on chartered accountants.  Frankly, in our opinion, accountancy and economics students don’t really need any special advice on taking examinations. The point is whatever the marks they receive, they sure know how to present them positively.

Practical suggestion:  Stay away from any stuff that seeks to slyly mock at exams and studies. Stop readingCrank’s Corner now.

  • MN

    Hi Balakumar,

    I’ve been reading your column for many months now. Appreciate it very much.

    I keep wondering (if not fixating) about a particular theme that is going on in almost all Mainstream Media outlets. More than words, the following TWO news items illustrate what I seek to point out.



    Do you too share this wonderment? How is it that 3 members who committed a gang rape of a minor 17-yr old SCHOOL-GIRL never get identified with any caste, creed, race, ethnicity (Obviously, I won’t say that *R* word)? However, an invididual who raped another (not minor, not 17-yr old, not SCHOOL GIRL) gets identified with his *CASTE*? I suppose this must be one of the values enshrined in some OATH of OFFICE that media-folks undertake.

    Hope to, someday, read your thoughts on this & other such events by comparing them.

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