Grades and Exams

Ever since I changed my educational philosophy, I’ve never liked tests or exams much. When I was doing Al Huda Taleem Quran course, I viewed the half juz tests as something I had to do because it’s required, but I never really did it in the spirit of acing them necessarily. I love the assignments though, because I felt that they made me think, reflect and thinking back, I think those open book assignments are what helped me change my actions because a change in thought had led to change of attitude. What was conveyed in the lectures in class was somewhat reinforced through the open book assignments. So, in doing those assignments, especially when there is a special section of it that requires you to do certain things such as “Make sure you return anything that is not yours to its owner”. Basically, they’re action items that you have to mark yes if you have done them, and you don’t want to hand in your assignments before you do those things.

Today, we had the exam, and as I was scrutinizing the Quran passages we were given, I encountered a ‘Whoa!’ moment. This is the third time that we’ve been given these papers with different ayaat now and in each exam, we’re required to identify the fi3l and ism and as we are learning more details about them and their states, we’re required to determine what role each ism or fi3l plays in the sentence.

I was looking at لَمَّ يَعلَمِ اللهُ and I know that ya3lami is a fi3l mudhaari3, and I know it’s not majhool, but I couldn’t quite get why it ended with a kasrah when mudhaari3 usually ends with a dhammah unless it’s mansoob or majzoom. But kasrah??? Then it occurred to me that it is preceded by a harf that makes fi3l mudhaari3 majzoom (sports a sukoon), so that makes يَعلَمُ -> يَعلَمْ  and then it clicked that it has a kasrah because since the next word is Allah, we have a situation where 2 sukoons are next to each other, so automatically then, we make the first sukoon into a kasrah. I have been reviewing ayaat that has exactly these and so it was as if a light bulb flashed in my head when I realized this. Awesome!

It was during this exam too that this thought occurred to me and I felt a need to write this down because this is significant to me. Testing and exams are to make sure we go over the material, but it makes more sense to me when the material we are taught are applied to Quran. That gives it meaning. Subhaanallah…

When I was doing Al Huda, my final grade was in the higher 90s but of course, I wasn’t a top student because there were students who truly aced their tests and assignments with ihsaan. I did feel a pang of regret during the convocation, but it didn’t last long because from that 4 year course, I feel that I had gained something more precious; a personal relationship with the Quran that has changed the way I think, act, and has enabled me to reflect on the Quran.

Now, in Dream, the atmosphere seems to buzz with concern over grades, though we have been reminded over and over again to not fret over them too much. We’re given access to our grades throughout the course so we can see our progress. To be honest, I always forgot about them and always forget to check on them. The only time I remember is when someone mentions,

“Our grades are up!”

Then, I couldn’t help but feel the urge to check them, even though deep inside I don’t believe in grades as being the determinant of success. I feel sheepish every time I log in to check my grades. I feel like I’m betraying my personal stance. I feel that one of my most difficult struggle in doing this program so far is bringing out my true inner self and redirecting my focus to what I personally feel are important so as to allow me to function at my own personal best.

Today, I felt like the exams are beneficial, because today, I felt that it helped me apply what we learned to Quran, and that is the main goal of this course, I think for most of the students if not all. However, I’ve started to develop a habit of just leafing through the Quran and scrutinizing the words, looking for grammatical rules that we have covered and this is a very enjoyable exercise subhaanallah, especially helpful for hifdh. I can’t wait till we get deeper and gain the tools to appreciate Quran more in sha Allah.



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