CHENNAI: If the pre-boards are any indication, scoring in the CBSE Class 12 board examination is set to get a little more difficult than usual. Changes have been made in the exam pattern, shifting from ‘objective-type’ questions to ‘application-based’ ones.
The number of questions in subjects such as political science, economics, business studies and accountancy was reduced, while the number of “long answer” questions increased and two-three markers reduced. These and other changes were noticed in the sample papers students attempted recently.
The political science paper has just 27 questions against the 31 earlier. Now there are five one-mark and five two-mark questions instead of 10 of each, making it easy for below-average children to score high. Now there are more analytical questions.
The emphasis on long answers will please college teachers, especially those in humanities and social sciences. Some schoolteachers feel bringing sudden changes defeats the purpose of the continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) system, aimed at reducing stress.
The mathematics paper will have 26 questions instead of 29 and business studies 25 instead of 30. Students say they cannot choose among six-mark questions, which required an elaborate answer, whereas earlier every question had a choice. There is a clear shift from short-answer questions to the long analytical kind, teachers said.
Around half the questions in the accountancy sample paper tested candidates on higher order thinking skills (HOTS).The application-based or interdisciplinary questions don’t ask only what is in the textbook. About 70% of the business studies paper had such questions, students said. “Some students — already performing well — are enjoying them. We’re afraid they’ll impact performance of those who take time to assimilate concepts,” said a teacher.
Others are not as perturbed. Asan Memorial Senior Secondary School principal Suma Padmanaban, said there were some application-based questions in chemistry and economics in pre-boards but added that this had been the CBSE objective for a while. “They don’t want the exams to be textbook based, because it doesn’t really make sense at the end of the day.”
Teachers have been including such questions in school exams as preparation. “Direct questions are included to help students who find academics difficult to make the grade. In the boards it is understood that the difficulty levels will be such that all students are tested and to make them think,” said Padmanabhan
Modern Senior Secondary School principal K Mohana said the number of HOTS and interdisciplinary questions had increased but the decisions were based on the subject committee recommendations and were part of the curriculum documents released last year. “Nothing is out of syllabus,” she said.
“The idea,” said a CBSE official, “is to de-emphasize rote-learning and move towards more exploratory and evaluative lessons.”