Building scientific real world problem-solving temper among students by transforming our entrance exams

Using just MCQs for entrance exams has many drawbacks. MCQs just test examiner way of thinking, not students, neither it tests originality of students.

MCQs don't test what approach a student took to solve the problem, or why he/she was unable to solve it. Also, even if (s)he knows the strategy to solve the problem, many times (s)he can't reach the solution, because of mistakes in intermediate steps. The result is losing the marks.
There are situations like unable to do the calculations, unable to recall the formula, even if he/she understand how the formula works.

How many times you as a student feel frustrated for doing irrelevant silly mistakes and lose marks? I find many being frustrated for doing minor calculation errors, unable to recall even if they know it. Students are treated in a manner as if they are completely not allowed to make any mistakes.

A question in chemistry about the rate of reaction does not test your logarithmic knowledge of mathematics. Even though it's required to solve the problem, but is the question really testing it. Logarithmic knowledge can be tested in math papers. Even if student understand how to solve the problem, he can't reach the solution.

Steps for solving real world problem
1)The student needs to understand the problem (understanding requires understanding of subjects in detail)
2) Developing strategies to how to solve the problem
3)Know the right tools with which you can solve it. e.g. A simple equation can be solved by a calculator or a computer program
4) Need to know how to use these tools e.g. You can't use calculator to solve a mathematical operation without knowing division is done prior to addition when not it brackets

But MCQs disallows us to use the right tools to solve the problem.

Another thing is the time limit. What is important is whether he solved the problem or not within an acceptable time limit e.g. in days or hours? You can't expect everyone to solve the problem in minutes.

Another important drawback is student spend all their time to solve the same type of problem, e.g. about 300 of questions for each type of equation. Is such an effort required? It only hinders them to learn something new.

So what transformation is required in our entrance exams?

Entrance exam should be divided into two parts:
1) Multiple choice questions should be set in a manner so that it tests their fundamental UNDERSTANDING of the subjects.
2) Selection through projects or working idea submitted. More weightage to projects than MCQs paper
This will discourage students to run behind marks, students will become more innovative, and try to solve real problems, rather than problems of books. All students will start thinking about the problem that the country or world is facing.

How can it be done?
We need a transparent mechanism using tools such as a website.
Students need to submit their projects there.
All projects should go under plagiarism checker and projects that do not meet the originality criteria should be rejected.
The selection procedure should be left to the universities.  They can select students based upon the projects, but they have to provide the detailed reasoning of selection as feedback.
After selection procedure is done, the projects should be available for open review, to check whether colleges are selecting in a proper manner or not.
Intellectual property rights can be given to students that meet the criteria of it.

(Students spend years for preparing entrance exam, imagine how transformative effect it will have if they use that time for real problem-solving projects)

What should be the criteria of projects?
Projects that are already done, ongoing projects are acceptable, also new ideas (ideas with every nitty-gritty, not just one line, giving details requires research, but one liner don't) are also acceptable. Multiple ideas or projects are also acceptable.


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Amiya Behera
Introvert, nerdy, open minded, always learning, scientific, critical thinker, logical

Interests are in programming, chemistry, statistics, molecular biology, evolution, psychology, economics, ecology, philosophy and politics
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