Anuja’s suicide
When I was 10 year old, I remember once, there was a crowd gathered around Anuja’s (name changed) house, who lived about 100 meters away from our house. I too wanted to go there to find out what was happening, but was not allowed by my parents. Later on in the evening, I came to know that she committed suicide by hanging, as she scored only 81% marks in her tenth board examinations, which was well below her parents’ and her expectations. We hear several similar stories from different parts of our country. Depression, stress and anxiety are common before & during examinations. If one does not score high marks, they feel worthless, unfortunately leading to suicide in some cases.
Mental problems among students
I have been increasingly seeing young students with various psychological problems, such as sleep disturbance, anxiety, headaches, poor memory, body pains, decreased energy and depression. Fear of exam or fear of scoring low marks in an exam are the main reasons for these symptoms.
But is scoring high marks so important?
Marks have limited importance:
1. One needs to score “pass” marks in order to get promoted to the next class, which ranges from 35-50% in various classes/schools/colleges. 
2. One needs to score “qualifying” marks in order to become eligible to write competitive exams for UPSC, engineering, medical, etc (which ranges from 50-75% in various exams).
3. Class XII marks are taken into account for admissions into graduate courses of a few good colleges (which can be as high as 99% in some cases).
Drawbacks and demerits of marks:
1. There is no perfect correlation between marks and knowledge. A student with good knowledge may score lesser marks and someone with lesser knowledge may get very high marks. 
2. Examinations, unfortunately, do not assess the practical knowledge, intelligence, judgment and application of a student; they mainly assess the retention, recall and memory abilities. Communication skills, ability to deal with difficult situations, and interpersonal skills, which are so important in real life, are also not assessed by the “marks” system.
3. Marks obtained in 10th and 12th board exams do not have any meaning in the job/occupation one chooses later. For example, no patient of mine has ever asked me my marks from school or college days (however, I would be proud to tell those figures, as I scored high in most of the exams).
So, what should students do?
1. One should study to gain and acquire knowledge. Understanding the concepts is more important than just memorizing them. 
2. Marks do not matter much and obtaining high marks in an exam should not be the sole goal. 
3. Studies would be a pleasure, if it is taken as a means of gaining knowledge, rather than a means to score high marks in an exam. 
4. One should study “round-the-year” and not just before the exams. This would reduce the pressure prior to the exams. 
5. There is no need to feel bad, if one gets” low” marks in an examination. Most of the great men & women in the world were not class toppers in their school or college days.
I would be pleased to have your comments on this article.

Consultant Neurologist
Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad
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