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Why doing away with class 10th Board exams makes no sense at all

By on Jul 2, 2009 in Food For Thought, Stop The Press | 40 comments

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Originally posted at Youthpad.

BlogAdda Spicy Saturday PickUnion HRD minister Kapil Sibal recently stated that the government is thinking of doing away with the class 10th Board exams and making them ‘optional’, with just one Board exam in class 12th. In fact, Kapil Sibal also wants to do away with class 12th exams. Makes me wonder whether he’s doing all this just for publicity, now that people bother listening to him as the HRD minister instead of minister for science and technology. Frankly, I don’t think that’s a really good idea. I’m sorry if you’re someone studying in class 10th and below but listen kid, you really need that exam.

Sure, the Board exams do generate a bit of tension among students. That’s just how life is. Life throws challenges at you and you are supposed to learn to surmount those challenges. There isn’t a magic wand to wish away and make some challenge in life ‘optional’. A nationwide standardized exam helps everyone find out where they stand vis a vis a student in some other corner of the country or your classmate standing right next to you.

Let’s assume for a moment that this hare-brained scheme goes ahead and the class Xth Board exams are actually abolished. What exactly is that going to achieve in ‘reducing tension’? Absolutely nothing at all! In class 12th, students are thinking of what career they want to take up, what college they want to join, preparing for entrance exams for engineering / medical / law / others…and in that mix you want to say that giving the Board exams for the first time in your life is going to reduce tension?! I don’t think so. Doing away with in class 10th is simply postponing fate. As a student who’s passed out of school, I myself know that yes Board exams can make you nervous, but I was less jittery about it in class 12th because I’d already attempted a similar exam two years earlier. Having to sit for Board exams for the first time in your life in class XIIth is going to put an incredible amount of pressure on students when they have other things on their minds.

Many students currently studying in class 10th have said to me that they don’t get why they’re supposed to study this or that topic for their Board exams when it has nothing to do with what they want to do later in life. Look, the Board exams are not here to teach you skills that you need in your career – that’s what you go to college for. School (and the Board exams) are there to teach about things like getting your point across to someone you don’t know precisely and concisely, learning to analyse things and assigning importance to them (you’re gravely mistaken if you assign equal importance to all topics), learning to make study notes, learning to manage a schedule, et al. This is what education up to class 10th is about.

Class Xth Board exams also help you to choose streams to take up in the +2 leg of your schooling. During that year you realize “OK, so I’m interested [and / or] good at X subject but subject Y doesn’t interest me, so this is what I can consider taking as my stream.” Without a standard exam, it becomes difficult for students to find that out too. Each and every school’s exams and standards are pretty arbitrary and unique up to class 8 when they have a free reign. Without a standard syllabus even students won’t be able to find out whether they’re actually interested in a subject. Yes, I know about national curriculum guidelines for lower classes to but that’s just pure bollocks; no school really bothers following the national curriculum until the ‘spectre’ of Board exams comes up.

Am I trying to say that the current system is perfect and there’s nothing we need to do to make life even that tiny bit easier for those about to give Board exams? Of course not. There are a lot of educationists in this country who are genuinely working on making things better so let’s not be cynical about everything. CBSE is not out to ‘get you’. They are genuinely trying to change things but are often restricted by what can be practically implemented across every school under them. Look, I’ve been through that phase myself and I know how it feels. The major worry, at the end of the day, is along the lines of “I hope I get the marks I’m expecting”. Every year when the Board results are declared there’s lots of anguish about ‘top’ students getting lower marks than expected in some subject or the other (usual ‘culprit’ being English). Here are some ideas that I have:

  1. CBSE releases the marking scheme used to check papers a few months after Board results are declared to give students attempting the exam next year an idea of what they’re expected to write in the paper. How about releasing the marking scheme immediately after the Board exams? Students will be evaluate their own performance better and set realistic expectations about what marks they’ll be getting. Believe me, this goes a long way in reducing post-exam stress – when you really know how well you have done.
  2. As of now, only re-tallying of scores is allowed. Allow re-checking of papers but put a high price on it. By high, I mean something say Rs 1000-2000. This will help defray the cost of finding the darn paper again, hiring a higher level examiner, and also prevent frivolous rechecking applications.
  3. Well OK, who am I kidding. Even if the price for rechecking is kept at Rs 5000 per paper I’m sure anxious parents will flood CBSE with frivolous rechecking requests. So here’s the deal – have a good grievance redressing system in place. ICSE has a system where in case a student has a good track record in school and gets really bad marks (I’m not talking of 5-10 marks here – there have been cases where students got a mere 6 in some subjects in Boards) then they allow you to appeal that, and get it rechecked. Maybe something similar can be done by CBSE. Put stringent rules on what exactly is defined as a ‘good school track record’ and how much deviation from it would allow for an appeal, and then put in some rechecking mechanism. I don’t have any ‘scientific’ study to support this but I have a feeling that the most anxiety is within the top 1/8th or so candidates (defined in CBSE marking as A-grade). Such a system would go a long way in reducing tension.
  4. Counselling sessions for parents to be held by schools. Parents are often more stressed out than students and heap on their worries on their children. Again, not every school will have resources to do this – certainly not schools in smaller cities. But the point is that most ‘over-anxious’ parents happen to be from metro towns and while they might consist of a small fraction of the number of parents with candidates appearing for the exam, it is still a large number. Schools in big cities should take the initiative in this regard and hold a few counselling sessions for parents in a year. I’m not talking about PTA meetings. Get the school top faculty, professional education counsellors and then have a seminar on dispelling doubts, teaching them to handle stress, etc. This will help reduce instances of students being pushed to the edge / being compelled to call helplines. (Helplines are good though. If you’re a student or parent feeling stressed out then go ahead and call CBSE helpline.)

So what exactly is my point of writing all this? Exercising my right to free speech is fine but what do I get out of this? “Wow, a blog post has been written. Big deal.” The point here is that change is brought about by discussion. Spread the word. Discuss with your friends, parents, relatives, teachers about what can be done better. Don’t stay with a chalta hai attitude. Bounce some ideas around. Refer them to this article if you want. Start a riot in the comments section. Whatever you do, primary goal is start a discussion which finally brings about change. It doesn’t matter if this article reaches out to only one person or you can reach out to only one person (especially if that one person is a parent or a teacher) – if it somehow makes something better for someone somewhere, this article would have achieved it’s objective.



40 Comments

  1. Aditya Grover

    July 2, 2009

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    I totally agree wid u. One reform which i wud suggest is banishing of “sets”. i know why cbse has this but i think just changing d Ques. no. wud be enough otherwise it leads to a lot of dissent among d students. also, i wud like to say that class10 syllabus(SSt especially) might be a bit lengthy but not at all bad. it increases ur knowledge a hell lot. even sst which students regard as a worthless subject has taught me so much about d economy, state of politics in our country etc.

    • Ankur

      July 3, 2009

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      S. St. is good as it is right now. As I said, learning is part of the process but learning how to learn is more important. Skills you need in +2. I don’t think sets is a big issue because difficulty level is almost identical. Sometimes it gets skewed but not an extent of more than 6 marks. Quibbling over such small details is what only the top 1/8th students will do…and therefore CBSE won’t pay attention to this.

  2. nicely written, and convinced me that it’d be a bad idea to do away with 10th boards…but i think that something along the lines of the SAT would be better than the Boards we have now–they’re much more fool proof wrt the checking and stuff…

  3. manisha bansal

    July 4, 2009

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    i too agree with u n its nicely wrtt. n convincable that class 10th boards xams r necessary
    i want too add some thing to this discussion that doing away class x board xam will also led to inc. in unemployment .as u said students may choose wrong stream in class 11h and not will be able to decide what is good for her/him,leaving to less int. and no proper grabing of knowledge will provide them no good job n leaving too unemployment

  4. Ravi

    July 4, 2009

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    Completely agree with you. Scraping off Xth boards will just, make XIIth totally unbearable.

    From my personal experience, I’m observed that giving an exam in a particular format again and again really helps, as in the case of sample papers for example. Now, I experienced this ease of repetitiveness while giving my SAT the second time, as well as while giving my SAT Subject Tests. I remember studying for my last Subject Test (Physics) was a complete breeze.

    Now, applying the same concept to CBSE, my opinion would be of actually having a city/national-wide common paper EVERY year, but not keeping the results as a base for anything. Supposing students give their first “board” exams in 8th, where the syllabus is very manageable, they’ll learn to handle the psychological pressure associated with an examination of this scale. By the time students reach class Xth, they won’t feel much pressure, and will actually be able to concentrate more on their syllabus.

    One obvious implementation problem of having nation-wide exams every year is of course the cost. For that, I’m not really sure of a fool-proof solution, but am of the opinion that more school-teachers should be involved in the paper-setting loop. Let different sets of teachers work on different parts of a particular paper. Still, I concede that this is not completely practical, but just a suggestion as to how the pressure on students can in fact be relieved.

    • Ankur

      July 4, 2009

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      1. School teachers are already part of the paper setting loop. CBSE has such a group selected from top school across the country, many of them from Delhi.
      2. Pre-Boards provide enough practice. Theoretically having exams in 8th sounds good but don’t you think that putting that kind of nationwide exam pressure that young will be a bit too much? 10th is an ideal age because you’re a bit more mature to handle all this and yet don’t have to do it at a crucial juncture of your life like class 12th.

      • Ravi

        July 4, 2009

        Pardon my ignorance for 1.

        As for 2, 10th is also a pretty crucial junction with regards to choice of subjects. And I still think that the pressure on 10th class students can be reduced if they have given an exam of a similar format. And I don’t think EVERYONE takes pre-boards seriously. So, the practice is superficial. And I don’t mean academic pressure, I meant to imply the psychological pressure of giving such an exam which the pre-boards most definitely cannot replicate.

  5. anya

    August 5, 2009

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    i think they are necessary for each child as we can show of what we are capable doing off i being a 9th student ant to know what can i do in life

    • prachi

      August 20, 2009

      Post a Reply

      true..very true.I being a 9th std st
      student, am pretty excited about what my 10 boards are gonna be like.tension and pressure apart
      these exams help us to mine and end excavate ourselves at a tender age….so they sh
      shouldn’t be abolished…

  6. Nikhil M

    August 6, 2009

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    You have made some very gud points which warrant discussion.Gr8 job. :)

  7. abinaya skumar

    August 9, 2009

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    im very glad dat mr sibal is plannin 4 a grt idea. m in 10th n i myself face a lot f stress ,tension ,and a grt burden 4 studies..
    v agree wid others who thinks dat 10th scrapin is not good.
    but listen ppl we learn our 10th not with our wish and v dnt even get a bit pleasure in learnin so,,,its bcaz v r learnin d subjects wich is not at all useful in our courier. but 12th board is not what is 10th. 12th studies are truely based on our interest. so v do not feel much tensed as what we are facing in 10th.not only v students but our parents r mre stresd n hav got a lot f health props caz of our board. v mug up rather dan learning caz our thoughts are full just to finish d sylabbus n if u ppl say all the props r based on how we handle,then we have an answer that we want to live happy and we are the students who are suffering with more props its not what u ppl have learnt wen u wer young.world has changd n mre to study ,so pls leave us alone n dnt put ur ego in our business.

    • anonymous

      February 9, 2010

      Post a Reply

      dude first of all you seriously need to learn english!!! see, that is a subject you seriously need cuz you cant go with such english for a job!! second, yeah you have loads of stress, you are in 10th, right? jab naya syteme try nahi kiya na, toh kucch bolo mat, unlike all the people here, i am in 9th, and the new system sucks!!!! it creates sooooooooooooooo much of stress, my parents never forced me to study,i have no pressure from their side, nor do i get very stressed myself, but in the new system, there are soo many times that i havnt slept since 3 damn days!!! sooo mayn projects, and no importance of academics, teachers threaten you,1 day you dont get a god damn notebook, and they say we might not get a job because of that!!!! there is soo much of partiality, and seriously you do NOT want your 12th boards to be the first ones you ever give!! you do have a point that we are made to learn such useless stuff into GREAT detail ( @ ankur you have no idea how much, you have passed out, every year the course just keeps getting tougher and tougher, my cousins tell me that i am studying in 9th what they studied in college!! and all of that is absolutely useless ) but you cant help it, plus you will have to study waaay more in the new system, i am not saying that scraping them off is not a good idea, but not like this!! i mean they are treating the first batch NOT to give the boards like guinea pigs!! we dont know anything about the formats or anything, we have more course and no one to guide us!!! you seriously think you could have been luckier??!?!?

  8. muzammil

    September 6, 2009

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    i think it is a very good idea of taking away of 10th class board exams.I have noticed that most of the people who are commenting non sence are those who have passed those exams.i think it would be much burden on the children for studies.i am also a tenth class student in saudia,and i think it is an awesome idea of taking away of boaed exams

  9. chutki

    October 4, 2009

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    kuch kam dham nahi……
    time pass mat kar,,,,,
    hum logo ne 10th de diya ……

  10. ls

    November 9, 2009

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    i accept dt it is a bit difficult fr the student to study fr that year and halt his all activities but this helps in the later stages when he comes across a more compliated situation.always failure is not the step to stop.but it gives us the idea to how to overcome this situation now.if every one thinks that he cannot do any thing then the development would naturally be stopped.
    WAT XCTLY I WANNA SAY IS DONT BOTHER ABOUT THE FAILURE
    THINK WHAT CLD HAD BEEN DONE TO MAKE IT BETTER.

    • k. wasim akram

      November 24, 2009

      Post a Reply

      hi myself wasim i too…… agree that is correct what our senior’s said. and i too.. agree and support to this statement. now i am studying in p.u.c.2 year(p.c.m.b) and i realize how important the board exam’s are……

  11. shubham

    December 7, 2009

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    hi myself is shubham .according to me thr is nothing so tough in class X.if the literary subjects r removed just as sanskrit , SST ; the strain will surely give up students.

  12. SUTAPA BISWAS

    June 17, 2010

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    AS A SINCERE PARENT AND AS A TEACHER ALSO I THINK IT IS A TERRIBLE NEWS FOR ALL CBSE LEARNERS AS THEIR BOARD EXAM HAS BEEN MADE OPTIONAL. IT MUST BE COMPULSORY FOR ALL.

  13. shreya

    October 13, 2010

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    this matter is aptly written. i comp. agree wid u.its very imp for us to give board exams as if we directly sit for this in the class 12th then it wud be an absolutely new thing 4 us and surely the results will be shocking. sm1 has 2 do smthng abt it

  14. sonal

    January 16, 2011

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    dats ryt…it has been taken a very ryt step..i m in class 10th nd i completely agree wid it…

  15. Prateek

    February 27, 2011

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    sir i am in class 10th & I got 20 marks in piratical in maths & science !
    I want to ask you that if i get only 13 marks in theory in board exam ! can i pass? I head that passing marks is 33 out of 100 ? Is in board exams piratical marks will going to be added? Is it 10th class board exam easy?

    and tell me the benefit of CBSE BOARD EXAM? (short)

  16. ammu

    March 7, 2011

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    there are so many good points included in this article and i got quite a lot of points for my project. this is just amazingly written….

  17. ramu

    March 18, 2011

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    Kapil shibbal is right. he should go ahead to remove board exam.because we do not use any study of 10th exam while we work in private or government orgnizarion. we need make strong our University exams.

  18. addy

    May 23, 2011

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    i strongly feel that , scraping off of the board exams are a step forward for the whole of the Indian educational system as it’s going to be more directed towards the “percentiles” of a student , rather than his or her “percentage”. i have just written my boards and i strongly feel that this has not only enhanced my intelligence quotient but also my practical and emotional skills. In today’s world just the degree is not enough to survive but also your attitude, it is necessary for you to think Out-of-the-box rather than following what others have done up for us. the IIT doesn’t promise to make you a good engineer but it can sure provide you with the degree , but do you think that is enough to grow up in life?
    It’s said that when you build something the base should always be strong and Mr Kapil Sibal has done exactly the same thing for us starting from the 10th boards. when it comes to arguing about the pressures of life and all that crap, THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT!! If it was so necessary to face so much of pressure then why don’t they put boards after every year?? this is a pointless argument . I was luckily included in the first batch and I think it has made a huge difference in me, it has given me more than enough time to focus on my personal interests and time to completely understand what the heck i am learning and not just mugg up and vomit in the last moment on the paper…….
    this is all what i have to say……..rest is up to you guys …..

  19. HARSH

    June 5, 2011

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    its right that board exams helps us in future but the level of the paper should be medium not so easy also not so difficult so thaT IT DOES not becomes burden on a weak student so that everyone likes giving it ……..

  20. Shantanu Salil

    October 8, 2011

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    I am appearing in board exams.I have chosen this because I want to get experience of these exams.I am little bit nervous but I know I will do it well.

  21. shubhika

    February 14, 2012

    Post a Reply

    I WILL BE APPEARING FOR STD 10 BOARDS THIS YEAR….AND M REALLY NERVOUS ABT IT… MY SENIORS LWAYS CMPLN DAT THE PAPER WASNT THE 1 THEY EXPECTED……..I HAVE A QUES …….ARE THE STD 10 BOARDS REALLLY THAT IMPORTANT FOR A STUDENTS FURTHER LIFE I MEAN CAREER JOBS COMPETETIVE EXAMS INTERVIEWS AND ALL THAT?????…..EXCEPT OF MAKING A KID FAMILIAR TO TYPE F EXAM HE R SHE WILL FACE IN 12 IS ANY OTHER CRUCIAL ROLE THAT IT PLAYS…….REALLLY WANNNA KNW ….

  22. Shweta

    March 10, 2012

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    Hi Shubhika,
    you r right and these exams are not important for interviews and all but they are helpful for 12th board and the pattern u can expect. it makes u less stressful and fearful of what’s coming ahead. I agree with Ankur Baneerji that 10th board help prepare u for 12th board which are much more important for ur life and career. its better to be prepared than be sorry later and wish thatif u only knew how that works u may have done better and b in a better college or whatever. 10th boards are all about preparation for 12th boards and a better future.

  23. shubhika

    March 18, 2012

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    THANks………. shweta……..bt stilll boards for me sounds…..2222….scary….thanks 4 considering my comment …….:-)

  24. pooja

    June 5, 2012

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    yaa itss true well i have entered in 10th class n i m very excited 2 knw wat will happen i m little bit nervous bt still excited and from this session onwards i have become very serious 2 my studies

    lets se wat will happen!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  25. Amit

    July 18, 2012

    Post a Reply

    Class x exam should be removed upto 2013 or more ealier it is very nessary 4 our future

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