When it comes to preparing for exams, the use of guide books or kunjis is one of the most popular methods followed by students across India. Although the use of this method of study has faced significant criticism from not only educationists, but also numerous parents, such books continue to be used extensively for exam preparation. This is primarily because of the fact that there some sections of society, including most students and even some teachers, support their use as a part of exam preparation. In fact, most of us would have used guide books while preparing for our own exams irrespective of whether or not we consider them to be the right method of study today.
So what causes this huge divide between the various sections of society regarding the use of guide books? Before answering this question, we first need to understand what these books actually are? This write-up attempts to answer these and other similar question while also highlighting the advantages and disadvantages of their use.
What are Guide books?
Put in simple language, guide book is a general term used for identifying books that educate the readers about various concepts in the easiest possible way. The earliest instances of the use of guide books has been found in the tourism industry, where such texts were used to provide a basic information about the most important places of a tourist destination, to the visitors.
In terms of education, such books are basically contain brief details of the most common topics about which the students have been tested in exams over the past few years. Although, there is no specific reference about the first instances of using such books, it can be said that their frequent use might have begun in the latter half of the 20th century, although they became exceedingly popular only after 1980.
Difference Between Guide Books and Reference Books
It is also quite common for people to confuse guide books with reference books, despite the fact that the two are significantly different not only in terms of content but also their approach towards educating the readers. Generally, guide books comprise the most important topics for a subject that the students are commonly tested for over a period of a few years. The books consist of a short description of a topic and then go on to provide a collection of the most frequently asked questions about the said topic, until all the topics are covered in a similar manner. On the other hand, reference books generally contain a detailed explanation of each topic, irrespective of its importance from exam point of view, along with several practical examples to ensure proper clarity of concepts.
Another significant difference between the two is that guide books are generally composed by publishing houses on their own with the help of exam papers of the past few years. On the other hand, reference books are usually composed by professional experts and often contain the latest information and results of research works conducted in specific areas. Reference books are often known as the extensions of text books, which contain basic details that are often not be found in the text books.
The Advantages Of Using Guide Books
Although many people would like to disagree with this point of view, but it is a fact that using such books do seem to have certain advantages, especially in the current times. With the levels of competition reaching new heights and not only parents but even educational intuitions wanting the students to excel in all subjects, the children are facing tremendous pressure. In the past few years, it has become nearly impossible for students to get admission in good colleges even after scoring A grade in all subjects. In such a scenario guide books provide an easy way to master the topics that are most likely to appear in the exams and hence ensure excellent marks.
Another advantage of using these books is that they can be used in the form of reference books or for gaining additional knowledge about a topic. Most often these books contain many problems along with their solutions, which despite being extremely important in the learning process are often not found in reference or text books. However, this method can work only for students who do not restrict themselves strictly to guide books for studying or even preparing for the exams.
Disadvantages of Guide Books
Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of using guide books to prepare for exams is that it encourages students to cram rather than learn by understanding the practical concept of any topic. While this might prove helpful in attaining better marks, it definitely hinders the mental growth of the children and makes them incapable of handling practical problems in their professional lives.
Another major disadvantage of using these books is that, students seem less inclined to learn the entire topic and rather focus on just its few segments which are covered in the guide book. This not only limits the extent of knowledge they gain but can also ruin their prospects of scoring good marks as they would not be able to answer questions about anything they have not read about.
Many people also feel that guide books are largely responsible for curbing the sense of curiosity among students, which is extremely important for their overall growth and learning. The need to ask questions and seek their answers is definitely reduced in students, who rely solely on such books as a means of exam study.
Whether or not Guide books should be banned is beyond the scope of this write-up. But we can surely say that like most other things, the use of these books can also prove beneficial while having certain drawbacks at the same time. It is ultimately the choice of the students and the guidance of parents and teachers, which decides how the guidebooks are to be used.