Thursday, January 19, 2023

An Analysis of English Question Papers of I B Tech

Need for an Analysis:

Studying English as a subject, for non-literature students, is only to learn English language. So the prescribed English texts should be used only as a pretext to teach some language. In other words the content of the text is not the object of teaching and the focus should be on teaching language through the topics dealt in the books. All teaching without this orientation is waste of time and energy for students and teachers of English and wasteful expenditure for the government and the society.

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Language constitutes words and their arrangement in sentences in a meaningful way. So focus should be on words i.e., Spellings, Meanings, Pronunciation and Usage. Mere memorizing of passages and paragraphs may result in getting some marks but not the capacity to understand or use English language which is essential to read any subject, to get a job and to retain it.

English syllabus of each class is designed to teach language. Text books are prepared accordingly. But some teachers are yet to realize that they should not be explicators of content but be teachers of language. That is the reason why the change that has come about in text books has not come in teaching and in the question papers of examinations. As the teachers and students of the present day are more oriented towards examinations, a change in the way of questioning would bring in the desired change in teachers and students. So an analysis of the questions in the university and mid exams would make us understand which questions are to be asked, which to be avoided and why. Eventually a model question paper can be evolved.

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Problem 1: Structure of the Question Paper: The English Question Paper has Part A and Part B. Part A has six questions covering six units of the detailed and the non-detailed texts. Part B has two questions covering 7th unit on writing and 8th unit on Grammar. A student has to answer five questions choosing at least one from group B. In other words Group A constitutes 60-80% and Group B constitutes 20-40%. The problem is that in Group A all the questions test knowledge of the content and not language. This is against the very objective of studying the subject English. The questions in Group B test language. 7th question tests writing skills and the 8th tests grammar and usage.

Example 1: Describe the various steps involved in the making of a film. [JNTU-A, B Tech I year, R09, May 2010, Set No.1, question no.6]              

Example 2: Sketch the character of Joe Larrabee. [JNTU-A, B Tech I year, Sept. 2007, Set No.1, question no.6]                           

Since the focus should be on language learning and not on content, the first 6 content based questions in Part A should be changed to language based questions.

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Problem 2: Covering syllabus in the question paper:

a) [JNTU-A, B Tech I year, R09, May 2010, Set Nos. 1, 2, 3 & 4, Question no.8]                                                                                      

8th unit of the syllabus has 12 chapters. But

In Set No.1 Question No.8 has 14 bits testing only one-word substitutes.

In Set No.2 Question No.8 has 14 bits testing only idioms.

In Set No.3 Question No.8 has 14 bits testing only Question Tags.

In Set No.4 Question No.8 has 14 bits testing only Prepositions.

One-word substitutes and idioms are to be learnt by advanced learners of English. Study of these is not necessary for a general English student like an Engineering student. These are far away from his technical needs. So they need not find a place either in the syllabus or in the question paper. The topic ‘Question Tags’ is not included in the syllabus. It should have been. Still it is not so important as to ask questions worth 14 marks on this chapter. It deserves to have credit of only 1 or 2 marks.

In question no.8 there should be 14 questions covering all the 12 chapters of Grammar in Unit 8. Leaving out 11 chapters and giving all 14 questions in 1 chapter is irrational. Giving questions outside the syllabus is……

b) [JNTU-A, B Tech I year, R09, May 2010, Set Nos. 1, 2, 3 & 4, Part-A & B]                                                                                    

In Set No.1 in Section A of the 6 questions 5 are from detailed text, one was on report writing and there was no question on the non-detailed which constituted half of the syllabus in Units 1-6!

In Set No.2 there is 1 question on detailed text and 5 on non-detailed text!

In Set No.3 there are 5 questions on detailed text and 1 on non-detailed text!

In Set No.4 there are 3 questions from detailed and 3 from non-detailed text.

Section-A:            Detailed Text      Non-detailed Text        Writing

& Grammar         Section-B Writing  & Grammar

Set No. 1    5 questions (x)   0 questions (x)   1 question (x)     2 questions

Set No. 2    1 question (x)     5 questions (x)   0 questions         2 questions

Set No. 3    5 questions (x)   1 question (x)     0 questions         2 questions

Set No. 4    3 questions         3 questions         0 questions         2 questions

Obviously the first three paper setters defy all logic in setting the question paper. Question on report writing in Set 1 should have been in Section B.  Any examiner should cover the whole of syllabus in the question paper as for as possible to make the students read the entire syllabus. Giving all the questions only from some part of the syllabus ignoring many chapters is improper. Further all these are only content testing questions. Hence they are to be replaced with language testing questions.

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Problem 3: Question: Write an imaginary dialogue between Kalam and his scientist colleagues. (There should be four turns each in the conversation)        

[JNTU-A, B Tech I year, R07, June 09, Set Nos. 1, 2, 3 & 4, question 7.a)]           

This question tests the creative writing abilities of the examinee. One should exercise his imagination to answer this question. This question is relevant only for people who want to become writers or dramatists. Obviously the focus is not on the use of language but on the creativity of the student. So such questions should not find place in the question papers of engineering students.

Problem 4: Question: Write an essay of 1000 words on (a general topic Ex: role of youth in natural calamities (question 1), simple living (question 2) thinking differently (Questions 2), ill effects of brain drain.(Question 1) [JNTU-A, B Tech I year, R07, August 08, Set Nos. 1, 2, & 4]                                                        

This question tests the general awareness of a student about men and matters along with the ability to synthesize various points into an organized essay. The detailed and non-detailed texts do not contain any essays written by renowned essayists. Reading simple non professional writers in the texts does not give the students necessary inputs to write essays. So the question, where the focus is more on general awareness and not on the use of language, may be avoided in the question papers.

Problem 5: Question:   

a) Read the poem and answer the questions given below. [JNTU-A, B Tech I year, R07, Sept. 08, Set No.2, Question 7 a & b]   

 Understanding a poem is the job of a student of literature and not that of an Engineering student. The question is irrelevant and hence to be avoided.

b) Question:  See if you can write a poem with the title or topic spelled out in a suitable manner. [JNTU-A, B Tech I year, R07, Sept. 08, Set No.2, Question 7 a. v]                                                                                    1 mark

Obviously the paper setter is trying to make the student a poet and not an engineer! The extension of the thoughtlessness here is in making the student write a poem only for one mark.

Problem 6: Question: Questions on Vocabulary [JNTU-A, B Tech I year, R07, Sept 08, Set 2, Question no.8 b)]

8 multiple choice questions for eight marks were given. The answers were to be selected from four alternatives from the following words. “infanticide, herbicide, pesticide, genocide, homicide, suicide, insecticide, patricide”.

Most of these words do not find place in the life of an engineer. Learning such words which one does not use even rarely is waste of time and energy. Further one cannot remember the words which one does not encounter or use. So the words to be tested should be from the prescribed text books and not from the imagination of the paper setter or from his own favorite book.

Problem 7:

Question A: In the mid examinations a paper setter gave multiple choice questions in the following way in the objective question paper.

a) Tsunami struck Cuddalore on                                          [                    ]

          i) 27th December 2004        II) 26th December 2005                                               III) 26th December 2004      iv) None

b) Who is the writer of “The Connoisseur”                                   [         ]

          i) Anu George               ii) Rudyard Kipling

          iii) Nargis Dalal   iv) None

These two questions test only the content / memory of the examinee and not his learning of English language. So such questions need not be asked. Multiple choice questions can be given meaningfully to test comprehension of any topic or point including grammar. There should be increasing order of difficulty in the choices given. Thus Multiple Choice questions may be asked discreetly. In both the questions the choice “None” is improper. It should have been at least “none of these”

Question 8: In the English Lab final examination the following questions were set by an examiner.

a) What is role play? Give two examples.

b) Write all vowel symbols with minimum three examples.

Both these questions are theoretical questions and there in nothing practical about them. Instead a couple of students may be given a piece of conversation for role play and may be assessed for their ability to pronounce sounds, to put stress on the right syllable and to maintain proper intonation. Expecting a written answer for these questions is like learning to play cricket by reading books on it. The paper setters and the authorities have to realize that English Lab examination is not like that of Chemistry Lab examination where the student has to prepare (ex: Hydrogen Sulphide) and also write the way it is prepared. Let us keep the English Lab examination a practical one and not a test of theoretical knowledge.

Question 9: Questions on “Negative sentences” may be asked after including it in the syllabus.

Structure of a Proposed Model Question Paper for I B Tech English

Time : 3 hrs}                                                                           Max.Marks 70

Answer any five questions

1. A) Read the given passage and answer the following questions.          7 marks

          (A passage from the non-detailed test with 7 global and local questions following it)                                                               

    B) Read the given passage and answer the following questions.          7 marks

          (An unseen passage with difficulty level equal to that of the prescribed book with 7 global and local questions following it)

2. A) Match the following words with their meanings.                             7                 

a)                                     —–                                              

          g)                                     —–  

                                                  —–   (g+1)                          

    B) Correct spellings of the following words, if necessary.                  7            

          a)                           b)                          c)                          

          d)                         e)                            f)

          g)                          

3. A) Use the following words in your own sentences.                           7       

          a)

          g)

    B) Fill blanks with appropriate forms of the words given in brackets.     7

          a)

          g)

4. Answer any two of the following.                                                        7+7

    A) Write a covering letter for your Resume.                                              

    B) Write a business letter to ———— for ————————-.              

    C) Write a letter to your Principal requesting him to issue your Study                    certificate to apply for a bank loan.                                              

5. Answer any two of the following                                                         7+7 

    A) Write a report on ————————————–                                          

    B) Make note of —————————————–                                  

    C) Describe your College Day celebrations.                                                     

6. A) Correct the following sentences                                                         7       

          (7 incorrect sentences covering different aspects of Grammar are given)

    B) Fill the following blanks choosing words from the list given.             7 marks                (a passage or independent sentences with 7 blanks may be given)                                                                                                                 

7. A) Write short notes of about 150 words.                                           7

          One question from unit 1, 2 or 3 of the prescribed detailed text

    B) Write short notes of about 150 words.                                           7

          One question from unit 1, 2 or 3 of the prescribed non-detailed text

8. A) Write short notes of about 150 words.                                           7

          One question from unit 4, 5 or 6 of the prescribed detailed text                                     

    B) Write short notes of about 150 words                                             7         

          One question from unit 4, 5 or 6 of the prescribed non-detailed text                                                                                                        

Break up for different language skills tested:

Reading skill: 14 marks (Question 1)

Writing skills: 28 marks (Questions 4 & 5)

Vocabulary: 21 (Questions 2 and 3.B)

Grammar & Usage: 21 marks (Questions 3.A &6)

Content of Texts: 28 (Questions 7 & 8)*

Question No       Skill Tested          Marks allotted

1 A & 1 B   Reading Comprehension      14

2 A, 2 B & 3 B     Vocabulary          21

3 A, 6 A & 6 B     Grammar & Usage      21

4 A, 4 B, 4 C, 5 A, 5 B & 5 C Writing       28

7 A, 7 B, 7 C, 8 A, 8 B & 8 C Content of the texts*  28

*[Content is tested for the present only as the shift to testing language can’t be sudden. This gives ample time for the change of mindset of the teachers and the students. So in the academic year 2010-11 Question no.7 should also be changed to a Reading Comprehension question like question No.1. In the year 2011-12 question No.8 also should be changed into a comprehension question like question No.1. Then all the questions in the question paper will be language based questions.

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Rajendra Singh Baisthakur
Rajendra Singh Baisthakur
Rajendra Singh Baisthakur had been a Lecturer in English. He is a poet, critic and translator. His interests are Literature, Philosophy and social media.

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