Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is constantly evolving for the betterment of the quality of education imparted through its affiliated schools. Enhancements due to various factors were made, based on the requirements warranted by continuous research in the education field, with NEP 2020 (New Education Policy), and the current COVID-19 pandemic situation.
The recent changes are mainly in the areas of curriculum, syllabus and assessment. Due to the closure of physical schools imposed by the pandemic lockdown from March 2020 onwards, a lot of time was spent to adapt to the new system of online education and to overcome the challenges associated with it. This led to the syllabus being reduced for all the classes. Various training sessions were organized for the teachers and the leadership teams by the CBSE, to develop and enhance the requisite skills for imparting effective education to students.
The most important change has been in the Board exam pattern for 2022 batch of classes X and XII students. The major features of the exam pattern include the following:
• Two Board Exams/Term-end Exams: CBSE will hold two Board exams conducted at the end of two terms. Term-I exam will be conducted in November-December and term-II exam will be conducted in March-April
• Rationalized Syllabus: Each term-end exam will be based on fifty percent of rationalized syllabus. This rationalization will be similar to the last academic session with the schools using the alternate academic calendar and inputs from NCERT for curriculum implementation.
• Pattern of Exams: The pattern of term-I and term-II exams will be different. Term-I exam will be objective with MCQs (multiple choice questions) which will include assertion-reasoning type MCQs and case-based MCQs. Term-II exam will have both short and long answer type questions, including case-based, situation-based and open-ended questions.
• OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) Sheets: These will be used for the term-I MCQ pattern. These sheets will be customized and provided to schools by the board. To mark their answers, students will need to fill the circles given on the sheet. After the students enter their answers in the OMR sheets, they will be scanned and directly uploaded at CBSE portal. Alternatively, the schools may upload the marks after evaluation on the same day.
• Duration of Exams: The duration of MCQ based term-I exam will be ninety minutes, whereas the duration for term-II exam will be two hours.
• Internal Assessments: Internals were conducted from the commencement of the new academic session. The internal assessment marks will be counted along with the term-I and term-II marks to arrive at the final scores. For this, schools will create and save a student’s profile in digital format regarding all the assessments undertaken during the year. Performance of the students will be the basis for data collection to create this student profile. For classes IX and X, internals will include three periodic tests, a student enrichment portfolio, practical work along with speaking and listening activities. Internals for grades XI and XII will include unit tests conducted at the end of every topic, exploratory activities, practical and project works. To make internal assessments more valid and reliable, CBSE will provide additional resources which will include sample assessments, question banks, teacher training and more.
• Conduction of Exams: External Centre-Superintendents and Observers appointed by the CBSE will supervise the conduction of the exams.
• Major and Minor Subjects: As per CBSE, all CBSE schools across the country offer the major subjects, whereas the minor subjects are not taught in all schools. Exams for the minor subjects will be conducted before the major subjects, at the respective schools of the students. Since minor subjects are not offered by every CBSE school, schools will be grouped together accordingly for the exams of minor subjects leading to more than one minor subject exams being held on the same day. This has been done to reduce the entire duration of exam which would usually be around 45-50 days since the board offers 114 and 75 subjects in classes XII and X respectively. As always, the exams for the major subjects will be held in exam centres.
In conclusion, CBSE has taken steps to make the examinations more transparent, technology-driven and student-centric. This was a key suggestion in the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 that reforms should be introduced in the exam pattern and that exams should be conducted in a phased manner by the Boards. CBSE has brought about the changes with the exams moving away from rote-learning and students being assessed on their conceptual clarity, application and analytical skills along with knowledge of real-life situations.
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Vinod Kakumanu heads a team of school services professionals and is an independent commentator on Indian school education scenario. Vinod has assisted school promoters establish 35+ schools besides providing ancillary services to over 1000 schools across India. He envisions a future where quality education is made available to every child of the country. The focus he places on the quality of the deliverables and customer satisfaction has made him renowned in the field of K-12 school education.