STUDENTS: We lack enough time to prepare for Term 1 boards

COVID-19 Education

NEP bifurcation leaves teachers sore too

The upcoming CBSE Term I board examinations   scheduled for this month are posing a challenge for students and teachers alike. Students say there is too much to study and little time to prepare.
Under the New Education Policy (NEP), class XII exams will be held in two terms. Term I exams will be objective in nature, and term II papers will be subjective. Keeping the ongoing pandemic in mind, CBSE has divided the board exam into two parts as recommended by the new policy.
Classes have been conducted online for over a year and a half due to the ongoing pandemic.
Sana Duggal, a student of humanities who is about to appear for her board examinations, informed The Observer: “CBSE is pressing on offline exams which might not work for all students.  I have been studying online for a year now, so I am more accustomed to  it. We also don’t have much time to study for multiple choice pattern exams.”
Earlier, board examinations consisted of only one main exam that was usually held in March every year. Accordingly, students used to prepare for subjective-type exams. Now, with the new system where the first term is objective-type, students are changing their pattern of preparation.
“In subjective exams, you need to understand the topic, after which you can write the exam in your own words. But for MCQs, I have to be very thorough. Reading a chapter once or twice is not enough. I need to mug up everything that is in the chapter; nothing can be ignored, Duggal said.
Spending almost three months preparing for an objective-type exam, some students feel they are losing on the practice of writing long answers. This will cause problems during the second term of the exam held next year.
Raghav Chopra, a commerce student, said: “Even though our syllabus has been divided, there’s not much time left for the second term.  For this term, I have been studying for an objective-type paper due to which I am not focusing much on writing long answers. However, I’m anticipating an issue during my second term exams where I might not be able to manage my time well while writing long answers.”
The information regarding the change in pattern was passed down by the board in July while classes had begun in the month of April. This had kept both the students and teachers confused about the course during the initial months of the online classes.
Smita Ghosh, an English teacher, said: “When we started teaching this year, we did not have any clue of the syllabus. We were expecting CBSE to provide us with a revised syllabus. Meanwhile, we continued with the old syllabus. We were quite shocked when the new system of bifurcation was introduced t in July. Initially,  for class 12, we used to plan the entire syllabus beforehand  because we knew that by the end of the session the final exam would be held and it didn’t really matter which chapter  we were taking in which term.”
“As we don’t have too much time left, with board exams starting from this month itself, many chapters have been completely left untouched,” she added.
An objective-type examination requires not only thorough reading but also application of conceptual based learning. This is particularly burdensome as MCQs have four options out of which only one answer is correct. Sonali Jain, a history teacher, said: “It becomes difficult for students to score full marks in objective-type exams. Only 20 percent of the paper has direct questions and the rest is application based. For these questions students have to connect to each question carefully. Only reading is not enough for such a pattern.”
Performance of students in the pre-board examinations wasn’t as impressive as it used to be. Teachers like Jain say that even the brightest of students weren’t able to score decently during the pre-board examinations that were held recently. But some schools are putting extra efforts to conduct mock exams before pre-boards. According to Ghosh, the mock exams were an eye-opener to most students as they didn’t perform that well during these exams.  
Child Counsellor Roly Tripathi said students are facing uncertainty and their preparation has been affected. “Questions that were asked in previous examinations were much easier to answer as they were direct. Students and teachers alike are finding it difficult to deal with this new pattern. The system of marking the correct answer in an OMR sheet during the actual examination will cause anxiety among students as the student is provided with only one chance to fill the correct answer. All of this is culminating into a stressful experience for students.”
The two-tier mode of exam has been adopted to reduce pressure among students. This will allow students to take board exams in two separate occasions, one main examination and one for improvement. This, according to the policy, will give students a chance to improve their grades.

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