In the past few years, I have been hearing from parents that "The paper was very tough," or worse still "Some of the questions were out of portions, the children could not even understand."
Many times I find that the questions are clear and need the application of the mind, using the concepts and fundamentals taught in class. Sometimes the application of multiple concepts in sequence or in parallel is required, which is somehow not being encouraged at home (in most cases) and at school (in some cases). The fact that they ask the questions in first place makes us feel a little better that the school wants the children to think about the subjects learnt.
Some teachers explicitly instruct the children to learn the answers by heart and award marks only on exact reproduction. This is directly killing the thinking brain in the children. We are explicitly encouraging memorization and discouraging understanding of concepts and fundamentals.
One incident in my college in the very first year, about 25 years ago, was with first test of Modern Physics. The first two chapters had been taught in about 15 classes (3 classes per week) and all the freshers (mandatory subject for about 500+ students) were eager to tackle the paper. There were only 4 questions, where the application of the concepts had to be done either repeatedly or combined across the two chapters. We got to know the school education that had blunted the brain, in the results, where-in 108 students scored ZERO and the average for the whole batch was 4 (out of 18). There were a few who scored full marks having applied the concepts learnt rather than wonder why the question does not resemble anything that was taught singly.
Life is not going to give us lessons and then ask questions within the portions. So, to prepare children for life, application of mind is important and to be encouraged. Creativity to be encouraged by making them think over-and-above the portions.