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Assessment patterns: Differences between study abroad and India

Posted on July 1, 2013
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Many Indian students who go to the US and UK for higher studies are initially surprised that assessment patterns were different than what they were used to.

Flexible course pattern

Soham Purohit is pursuing MS in computer science from Florida University. As Soham puts it, “There is huge difference in course pattern because it’s very flexible.”

Kinjal Tejani seconds Soham’s point.

Kinjal is pursuing Masters in Counselling and Guidance emphasizing in School Counseling from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She went to the US after couldn’t find the suitable course in India. She says, “Counselling is generalized in India. What I am studying is a chapter or a sub topic in the counselling text in India. I think is underrated given the huge demand the specialization offers.”“Undoubtedly there’s a vast difference in the course pattern. You get to choose what subjects you want to do and at what time in the degree program,” she adds.

Practical courses

Saurabh Gadkari did his Masters in Law specializing in Maritime/ Shipping Laws from the University of Southampton, UK.  Saurabh says that the course pattern was interactive and practice oriented. He also says that course itself is structured with a view of producing professionals unlike merely post- graduates from India.

Anam Rizvi, who studied for a Masters in International Journalism at Cardiff University in the UK, narrates her experience by mentioning that the course and the studies were very well structured and she got good exposure and a chance to learn from experts..

Memorising answers does not work

When asked about the assessment pattern, Kinjal says, “Assessment in India is based entirely or heavily on memory while in US universities it’s more of applying your skills, learning and research, take home exams and class presentations.”

Soham partly blames students for this type of arrangement. He says, “It’s the student who is at fault. The same student who memorizes answers in India tries to understand it when he is here. The fact that you can get away by memorizing answers because of poor paper setting format and attitude to copy projects and assignments, the value of the course goes down.”

Focus is not on exams

Saurabh points out that in India the focus is majorly on the written exams.
Anam takes this point further.

She says, “The assessment pattern in UK is very unbiased and fair. In India, when we give an exam we are not told on what basis we are being marked but handed a random score on the discretion of the examiner.”
To show the difference, Anam explains the exam pattern in Cardiff. She says, “We were told that we would be given scores on the basis of presentation, punctuation, language, research, content, style etc.”

Saurabh also elaborates on the assessment pattern in UK. He explains, “In UK a student is monitored by his class participation, short assignments during the course to assess his impromptu writing skills, group activities to stimulate vocational and oratory progress of a student, field visits and/ or industry visits and also a general theory based written exam. All these sum up the entire assessment pattern.”

Kinjal gives a brief outline of the assessment pattern in US, “Professors here assign you group projects wherein they and your group members rate you on a given criteria set by your professor/instructor. They also give you assignments, take-home exams and multiple-choice questions. It depends upon the professors whether they like MCQs or brief.”

To conclude, all of the four students agree on the point that the course structure and the assessment pattern are better abroad than what Indian institutes offer to students.

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