Sunday, May 08, 2005


Tomorrow is my first (and thankfully, only) oral examination. No! No! I don't mean the dentist. This one shall be conducted in the Hardware Laboratory of our college (a place no less feared than the dentist's office, by the way)!

A engineering student's life is tyrannized by three different types of examinations - theory, practical and oral. And each one is to be met with a slightly different method of preparation.

For the theory papers, the best bet is to memorize all the previous years' questions and (more importantly) answers. Both of these are available in a series popularly known as the Brilliant Jigar's (or just Jigar's for close friends)! Reading any of the text books will result in barely passing marks. And God forbid you should have the courage to study from a foreign authored reference book, for then even passing is uncertain. The reason for this startling truth is the ridiculously low mental levels of those correcting the papers. Anything other than the model answer is Greek to them, and likely to be met with a big cross! I have found this out the hard way on more than one occasion! Hence the moral of the story is to swear by the Jigar's and put all hopes of seriously learning anything aside.

The second category of exams are the practical examinations. Here the strategy to be employed is once again rote memorizing. What you have to memorize is largely dependent on what branch you are in. Thus for a Computer Science course, all you would have to do is memorize about a score of programs each of about 400-500 lines. If you even so much as bring up the matter of understanding what those program do, you will be disdainfully scorned upon by all the teachers! No surprise there, since it is doubtful any of them understand any of the code in the first place. Or anything else from their subject either!

And then finally, the oral examinations! Unlike the other two, here success lies solely in the hands of Providence! No Jigar's or programs to learn by heart! There are two examiners - one internal (from your college) and the other external (from some other college). Sometimes. the best you can hope for is that the external is hot, young and of the opposite sex. You'll still get screwed but at least it won't hurt as much.

Everything hinges on the mood of the examiner on the given day. If you're lucky, he'll have been satisfied the previous night and you'll get through without a hitch. Should your lick not be so good though, he'll have gotten stuck in traffic that morning. In such a case, nothing short of divine intervention can rescue you.

One good tip is to always have the names of a few reference books ready. So whenever he asks you which books you have studied from you can rattle these names off. It doesn't matter that you have never seen any of them before; he won't have either! But you can be sure he'll be duly inpressed.

The worst point is that in an oral examination there is no fixed boundary on what he can and cannot ask you. If he asks you to name all 28 of Neptune's moons, then you jolly well better! (It doesn't matter that Neptune doesn't even have that many moons in the first place!)

The trick to survival is to be as vague as possible and contort your answer as much as you can. If he can't understand what you said, he can't question you about it!

I'd like to end with an ancient engineering adage, which loosely translates into something like the following -

"Beware of the oral! It can sometimes turn into an anal!"

Let's just hope mine doesn't! Unless, of course, that young, hot female examiner turns into a reality!


Bhavna said...

Your post brought back fond memories. :)

Nice blog.

arnold said...

oh, memories of the good(?) ol' engg days?? i'm not sure tht in five years when i look back all these memories will be 'fond'! lol!! ;)