Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Fine Art of Writing an Exam

This Article was strongly edited/modified by my good friend “N.Thamizhvaanan”.Any grammatical errors/complaints may be attributed to him and compliments/homages/donations may be forwarded to me.:D 

I got inspiration to write this piece, the day I finished my
CAM(Computer Aided Manufacturing Exam).Should my professor decide to
sit down and read the intricate details provided by me as to why DNC
systems are preferred to CNC systems, I am sure he can convert it into
some sort of a bollywood movie script. If you read my paper closely, you will suddenly be transported to a distant land with fairies and talking lions.


Don't worry; there is nothing that will take more than a few minutes
of your "Oh! So busy" schedule. Just a few minor tips that will let
you laze around till the 13th hour(No! Its not the 11th Hour coz thats just for normal people) before you decide to do something
about the exam next day.

I know people tell you that you must relax before an exam and there
are even more weird people who say stuff like relax the day before an
exam. Had I followed such advice, I would have definitely failed at
least 70% of my exams. The key to success ( I mean Pass) is PANIC.
Panic at least two hours before the exam and get the adrenalin
flowing. By doing this you make sure that you cram in as much data as
you could have slogged throughout the semester.

As I was saying, the 2-3 hours prior to the exam must be spent with a
person who has finished the syllabus the previous day. Pester him with
frequent doubts, as obvious as they may be, but still ask, even though
he says he's gotta do some zillionth revision (some weird people do
that). Listen to all the important topics, remember topics (VERY
IMPORTANT!),remember keywords, they help in making you look like you
have actually read through the book . Any graphs, simple diagrams and
flow charts must be vaguely remembered. Don't forget to remember what
the X and Y axes symbolize.

Crunch Time

Here is where you put in all your effort. There are a large number of
ways of distracting the examiner from finding out that there actually
isn't anything worth grading in this paper (well, there is a very fine
line that separates forgery and writing an examination :P).

Active and Passive voice

The most powerful English language tool in writing an exam. If you are
fortunate enough to know even a single point in a given question. It
can be converted to 2 sentences with ease and if you are determined
enough a whole paragraph can be derived from it. Example?

The primary advantage with CNC systems is that they don't have a
tape reader which increases efficiency and doesn't need skilled

The lack of a tape reader in CNC systems not only ensures better
performance but also ease of operation.

You could also insert another sentence in between the above examples
just so that it doesn't get too obvious, should the examiner choose to
actually sit down and make sense of your answer (the probability of that is as much as you actually sitting and studying for the exam, so I think you are safe) . Make sure that the extra line carries a word atleast from the question or sub-heading title. Use the name of the subject if you know neither of them . This is called contextual answering. VERY

Colourful Presentation

Get yourself a Blue pen and a Black pen.(or any colour from within
visual spectrum that exists as a pen in this planet.).Keep writing
your stories in blue and every now and then there will be one or two
keywords that you will remember that is actually part of the given
topic. This is where you pull out your black pen and insert it between
your blue lines. This method maybe used effectively in conjunction
with the above "Active and Passive Voice" method. Make sure you write
different keywords in Black in your passive sentence. It maybe a
little time consuming but it will usually ensure that your prof.
doesn't really read the stories that you have written and added to
this, it gives the prof a false sense of security that you have studied

Flow Charts-Graphs-Diagrams

A Picture is worth a thousand words. This phrase, our wise ancestors
framed purportedly for exam writing. Make sure that you are sure that
your graph is correct because it is easier to spot a mistake in a flow
chart or graph rather than in a huge paragraph. Hence make sure you are familiar with
all the basic flow charts, graphs and diagrams in the given syllabus.

Make some passing reference to the keywords that we talked about
earlier. (Note: Diagrams are good source of keywords, so studying
diagram helps in more than one way.)

Draw it Big-Preferably occupying at least half the page

Draw it Neat-Use one of those lead pencils

Label it properly

If possible come up with unnecessary supporting stuff like legend, scale etc.

Explain what you are going to draw in a paragraph before the diagram and
what you have drawn in another paragraph after the diagram. Atleast four
sides of your answer sheet should have been filled by now

Don't follow the point system (neglect the fact that I've bulletted
the points that I mentioned above. Those are exceptions,Iam just too brilliant :P)

Never write only points. Even if, by the grace of god or by a sudden
stroke of madness, you have studied for an exam and want to write only
points. DON'T DO IT . Make sure you have written something below.

Eg:- Point No. 4-No Friction Reduces Wear

Primarily, Friction will cause wear but when we make use of the
following component. There is a drastic drop in dynamic and static
friction, resulting in reduced wear compared to the wear with more

Fill the darned answer sheet. One among the thumb rules of the art of
exam writing. Always believe that you can guess your way to the right
answer. A good student(or should I say a good “Exam Writer”) should be able to write volumes of pages of answer without illuminating a speck of his profound ignorance of the subject.

And if all else fails, the keywords desert you, you suspect you've got
one of those "Hard disk not found" kinda memory failure and the
superviser after repeated pestering, convinces you that the question
paper is indeed for the right subject and not misplaced and you wish
the ground would open up and eat you alive, there is PLAN B. This is
often attacked on ethical grounds, but almost everyone does it and
even the few who don't do it are not doing it more so for the fear of
consequences rather than any ethical grounds. OH! Did I forget to
mention what this method is?


Even though COPYING is unchartered territory for me (*Cough Cough*), I
do know some people who do indulge in such "APPALING" activities. Inspite of me
not condoning such behaviour, it must be accepted that
copying is an art unto itself.

Copying is broken down into 3 primary categories

Copying from the guy near you

Copying from some prepared document (usually prepared by you)

Copying from Text book

It is usually a combination of all of the above methods but quite
often you come across the person who solely depends on the other guy
and doesn't even take the initiative to follow the more arduous second
path. That's just plain lazy.(*Looks around nervously*)

Copying from someone near you
In this age of Telecommunications, students still rely upon primordial
ways of Data Transfer from one person to the other which varies from
rudimentary vocal communication to sophisticated cryptic body language
and every other possible type of communication except anamolous

(a).Sound Waves

This is basically orally asking your doubts to any person who is in a
one bench radius (Left, Right, Front, Back, Diagonal…doesn't matter
really). If you are desperate enough you could try a 2 bench radius,
but this usually back fires as even the even the examiner hears your
question and comes to you to give a fitting reply.

Make sure that when you are asking the question your mouth is clearly
facing the person because quite often ,you will look in front and ask
something to the guy behind you and you don't really have to be
Einstein to figure out that sound wont make a "U" turn and a
subsequent left turn into your friends ear. You must also ENUNCIATE.
Many a times I have seen a guy literally mumble something to himself
and then crib later that he didn't get help. This method is time
consuming and quite often wastes a lot of time of both the copier and
the "copiend" (The guy who assists in copying, Yay! New Word, Calling up Oxford!).

This method also preferred by the Ethical lot in the class. There is
always the option of just asking a small doubt which is more or less
like the "Open Sesame" of their brains.

He looks left, he looks right and then left again( you would think he
is crossing a busy highway), and then the sudden strike "Dai, what does
the "O" stand for in LOM(Laminated Object Modelling). I barely say
”Obje..”. And he goes something like "Ok ok ok! Got it, Got it!" .And then he spends the next 30minutes of his life,Half a cartridge of ink and 1/2738 th of a tree building on the word that I so graciously let slip out. Hmmm,
works for him. He needs just a word to strike upon the entire answer,
whereas ME! I need the entire answer before I have a remote idea of the meaning of that single word.

(b).Paper Hanging

No, this is not death penalty for paper. If you are blessed with
relatively good eye sight, you could ask the guy in front of you to
hang the paper on the side of his table. This method is very effective
as it doesn't really need your partner to worry about paper getting
lost and it also has a quick retraction system should the professor
start walking towards you. Make sure that the guy in front of you
writes big. And no, you shouldn’t bring binoculars to exam because
i)I am pretty sure that they are not allowed
ii)Thats just plain weird - WEIRDO! (Heh, I love this, I get to insult my blog readers as well)

(c)Paper Passing

Slightly risky, but will avoid a lot of wastage of time in asking
doubts. It involves the passing of the answer paper of the guy, either
behind you or in front of you. Beware, this is a very common source of
passing mistakes from one fools paper to some other moron's paper.
Thats because we normally tend to switch of our brains (that is the
default state) while copying from answer sheet.I have witnessed numerous incidents where the copier actually strikes out the right answer and copies the wrong one.A little common sense can take you a long way in such activites.Another point to note in this method : Unless both the copier and copiend is calm, things could get a little ugly should the professor start walking up towards you. For those of you who just don't have the GUTS(Aha! Provoked yet?) to pass paper, there is also an effective alternative.

Question Paper Passing

All you have to do, is get the guy to write major points behind the
question paper and exchange the question paper. (Don't just take his
question paper and forget to give him your question paper. This can
easily lead to getting caught)

Copying from some prepared document (usually prepared by you)

Prepared document covers a large spectrum. It can be books, Xerox
copies of books, hand written bits, drawing boards, personal data
written on permitted items in the exam hall, like calculators, data
books. Essentially anything that you are allowed to take into the exam
hall (which includes yourself). So you can also have stuff written on
your body. Yea, we students invented body art too. Each of these
concepts have been plagiarised in the film Memento and double
plagiarised in the tamil film "Ghajini", wherein the hero writes
important details on his body.I am in talks with the Students Federation Of India.
We are planning to sue them soon.

A good student should maintain perfect symbiosis with his environment.
Make use of any object that you can see within your reach. It is
within this context, that I am going to explain the next method - The
Drawing Board Practice . This may be a practice that is specific to my
college but it is one of the most fool proof methods I have witnessed
so far. I have never seen a single professor looking at the boards
before an exam. Sometimes they come and lift the boards to see if
there is any bits underneath the board but will completely ignore to
see the stuff written on the board. I don't get it, there is so much
data written on the boards and yet no action is taken to either clean
the board, punish those who write on it or even make an effort to see
if anyone is actually writing on the board. The fact that the boards
have at least 9-10 layers of ink, spread out over 3-4decades of their
survival makes it really hard for the professor to actually search and
detect the data relevant to his subject. Thus making it visible only
to the eye of the writer.

I am sure the word BIT needs no introduction, basically a very small
piece of paper in which you cram in as much detail as possible.
Beleived by many to be the precursor to Nanotechnology. Once you are
done with that, follow the previous step till you feel confident
enough. Another extension of BIT is the Mini-Xerox. It's nothing but
your normal Xerox but scaled down to an A8 or A9 paper. Your ability
to face embarrassment is tested here when you go to your local Xerox
shop(quite often you will make a trip to an alien neighbourhood so
that no one recognizes you).

You enter the Xerox shop-you wait till it is empty-you call the Xerox
guy to the side-quietly ask him for a "mini-xerox"-he will say it will
cost you 4 times the normal cost because he will use “special ink"(HAH!
The excuses are hilarious)-But you are desperate and say "ok ok,
please take it fast".

Copying from a text book.
Some beleive it is not feasible, but after witnessing several live demonstrations myself, I should say it is damn effective. Make sure you've got one of those
"local authors" text book (which is actually a question bank with a
mis-spelt title) that are easy to sneak underneath the board and easier
to flip through. Make sure you have gone through the book atleast once
before the exam, or else you will keep flipping the pages but never
hit upon the right portion.


If you get caught, there is nothing, really, that you can do about it.
You could try coming up with some excuses but they are all more likely
to fail than succeed.

Moral: Prevention is better than cure. DONT GET CAUGHT.

But just as a backup you could try the following excuses before
completely giving up.

-Deny point blank that you copied and it was merely a circumstantial
coincidence which has made it look like you were copying.

-Once you realize that the above excuse holds no water, you could try
pleading with the professor.

" I met with an accident yesterday"

"Life is very tough at home, I am supporting my family"

"My uncle passed away yesterday"

But for some reason, the moment you get caught, you tend to loose all
sense of "common" sense and come up with the most weird excuses to say the least. Here is couple of "Brilliant Excuses" that have ever been uttered in my

My professor catches one guy with the paper of the guy behind him. He
accepts to the crime and gives one of the standard excuses mentioned above. Then
he moves onto to the guy who gave him the paper and confronts him and
this is where total brilliance of this young man comes out, instead of
just accepting it, he goes something like this "Illa sir, kathulla
parandhu avanode tablikku poiiduche"
That basically means "No sir, the
paper flew due to the wind and landed on his table"
.Even the professor couldn't control him self from laughing and told him there was a limit to bluffing.

Another time, this guy writes on the question paper and passes it up
front but forgets to take the other guys question paper. The examiner
comes and asks him where his question paper is. This guy is totally
flabbergasted and looks around desperately and finds a question paper
on the next table which was empty, takes that and shows it to the
examiner. As luck would have it, the question paper wasn't even the
same subject. The hilarity of the situation kind of broke down the
tension and the examiner let him off with a warning.

So you could try some funny excuses in the hope that he just might
start laughing and let you go.

If all else fails, you could try playing dead!

That round about sums up this article. Even though this report will
contain specifics pertaining to Anna Univ. slight modifications can be made to suit schools, colleges, universities all over India.

In these 3 years of college studies, my college may not have modelled
me into an ideal mechanical engineer, but if there is one thing that I
have learnt it is how to write exams.

Now, this doesn't really mean I have been acing my exams or anything.
Just that I manage to clear all my courses(so far!) with minimum work possible.
May you all have a wonderfully lethargic and lazy academic life ahead
of you.

I hereby declare that details provided above are true only to the best of my friends fictitious imaginations. It has been written for pure entertainment. Any resemblance to anything living or dead is purely coincidental. I would like to reiterate that I am nothing but a innocent bystander and I do not endorse nor recommend any of the techniques of mentioned above.
Hopefully that will ward off any law suits that may be flying in at me. If any one has any other fool proof disclaimer please reply with it. I will edit the disclaimer accordingly.

Special Thanks to “N.Thamizhvaanan” again.

EDIT:It has been brought to my notice that I havent acknowledged a lot of people who have been instrumental in the writing of this articile,not from a literary perspective but more of practical research for the article(which has been spread out over the past 3 years).I would have thought they would much rather not be included in this article but I guess, it would be unfair for me to not drag down the whole crew if the ship ever sinks.So here goes, Special thanks to the following for extensive research in the above topic spread out over a period of 3 years.
M.Gautham,Harish.K,Arun Kumar.T,Aaron.J,Krish.K,Arjun.R.
Revenge is sweet. ;-)


foggy said...

great post man!!! u can actually print it sayin "copying for dummies"
i m bettin it will the best seller within months

Gowri Shankar said...

Thank you :) *Blushes*
The post is pretty big.Probably the reason why it puts off most guys even before they start it.

Anonymous said...

It is pretty big, and more importantly COMPREHENSIVE. so i second foggy's thought. we will strike a deal within this week. Feel free to contact me @ nameless @

Emperor said...

Hey this is Krishnan da, CS...fantastic post...a comprehensive coverage of the nuances of the art...hats off!!!

Gowri Shankar said...

will do...i have already sent a may reply to me at
:P :P
just kidding
thanx for the replies :)

Paurna said...

good post.actually indicates what anna univ is all about

Anonymous said...

I think Anna university is a bit more than that. It is all about dress code, uninteresting chicks, bald professors and stinking toilets

Gowri Shankar said...

i really doubt this is specific to anna univ.Any educational institution will be bound to have such activities since iam from anna niv...iam able to provide the nuances of anna univ.

Sheks said...

so thamizhvaanan is behind all this!never expected this from him.BTW the copying techniques u've mentioned here apply to assessments only.not to end sems.

Gowri Shankar said...

dai sheks
i should have mentioned that end-sem copying is a big NO NO!the consequences are too dire to even contemplate such things.

p.s. thamizh doesnt do anything....too studious. :P

Krithiga said...

I couldn't associate with this post, but quite a hilarious read. Forget the length, the length is just an indication of how much light you've shed on the topic. (Which is a lot :o))

Wetfingers said...

Sir if you could focus more on excuses to give for attendance shortage, it would be of great use.

Real good one, you want more people to read it, make yu get lesser lines under each heading the headings are cool man, they catch the eyes.

Gowri Shankar said...

i started out only trying to write on how to write the exams and unfortunately the "copying" topic came up and all of sudden the actual writing exams became a mere introduction.

excuses eh?will think of some more...a lil more time ..please!
uhm..didnt get the 2nd para of ur comment.
ur sayin i shuld reduce the no. of lines under each sub-heading?

arjun said...

y the hell did u let out our trade secrets..(i m not part of the 'copyin' gang). i never realised that my friend gowri'the porky'shankar can write so well.(only pertaining to his area of expertise) :). keep up the good work da. don worry abt length.. this stuff is pure magic.. u continue to amaze me.

arjun said...

blog abt the muvee we saw today :)

amazing archie said...

hey great one.. fantastic.
thanx for dropping by my blog.
i totally relate with the specifics mentioned..i mean damn.. ive aced almost all my exams with the help of these unspoken secrets... afterall engineering does teach one to be a great exam writer.

Tito said...

end sem copying nono???/gg
i guss my collage is much ahed of anna univ.. :P
anywayz awsome one ....u shld actually sell this :P
tell me if ur planning to ill also add my *Ahem* experties

u can find me at the ragna boards

Jaya Chithra said...

superb write up...
our univ xams stirred so much in u tat made u write so... good one..

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Gowri Shankar said...

oh..gawd....these spams are sad!

Shahil said...

Gowri!!!! IDIOT!!! Your life is DOOMED!!!

Remember him lol??

hey man.. been a while.. miss hanging out with u..
hit me up on msn sometime..

Nishanth Nadarajan said...

hey gowri, that was one heck of a post. and thnx for those tips, lets see if i can at least pass this sem with the help of ur tips. keep blogging......

TiTo said...

dunno what to call it

good or rude,

sad or bad,

terrorising or plagiarising.

Simple and sweet if i call that

i definitely gotta eat my own hat.

but i think i like this dish

dont be surprised if u find this fish,

swimming somewhere in my blog ...slish slish!(sorry dint know how to finish it)

Gowri Shankar said...

uhm..tito care to explain wat the hell was that????

Anonymous said...

oye gowri.. This is the 12th time im readin this blog man.. And it still cracks me up.. Awesome man.. Really.. And dont ask me why im counting the number of times i visit ur blog.. lol.. Harish..

Gowri Shankar said...

Somehow i dont believe that it is harish!Never gotten any compliments from u yet.I am very skeptical.This calls for a thorough background investigation.

Anonymous said...

Hey, axeraider here :)
A well documented and superb report since it's based on observations :P and this coming from a guy who has practised only say 1 out of 10 ideas mentioned there :P

Gowri Shankar said...

1 or 10...all of us have to learn this at college to either clear the papers or just enhance whatever marks we deserve :P

ranjit said...

nice fun reading da, looking forward to more...

Manu said...

haha.. this is really hilarious.

Fear said...


This goes into my 'Hilarious but True' List!

Really Funny :D

Anonymous said...

nice one

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Prashanth said...

hey excellent blog!!....

karthika said...

Great! You people deserve Ph.D for this research. :)

RajatAg12 said...

This one needs to be published on all college magazines.. ROFL.. really good post.. :)

madhavan said...

good one. I remember those drawing boards!!!