'Open book' test proposal sparks doubt

Academics and school authorities in Patna are sceptical about the decision of Central Board of Secondary Education to introduce "open-book" exams from the next academic session.

According to the new concept, students of classes X and XII would be told about what chapters or topics they would have to study beforehand. They would, however, not be allowed to take their books into the exam hall. The system is expected to enhance the thinking skills of the students.

School authorities have their doubts about the planned initiative, though.

J.R. Sharma, director, May Flower School, said: "The continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) system introduced by the board (two years ago) has not been implemented effectively in all schools. The 'open-book' concept would dilute the CCE."

He added: "In Gujarat, schools had experimented with the concept two years ago. But it was tough to implement and was not a success. Few students passed the exams. The board should try to implement the CCE. That would really be helpful for students."

The principal of another school, who did not want to be named, said: "The CBSE should not introduce so many changes in such a short period of time. This is confusing the students."

Board officials, however, claim that the new concept would help develop analytical skills in students.

An official at the CBSE New Delhi office told The Telegraph: "The plan is to enhance the analytical skills of the students. So, the questions would be set in such a way that they think about it."

Explaining the process, the official added: "The test would be announced beforehand. Students would be given the information about what they would have to study four months in advance. They would be told about the chapters and paragraphs on which they would be asked questions."

Students of Class X would have to take exams of all subjects according to the new concept while their seniors in Class XII would encounter the initiative only in a few subjects.

Asked how the concept would work for mathematics, the official said: "The students would be presented with a case study and they would be required to apply their analytical skills. The questions could also be interdisciplinary ' the students would be required to co-relate, compare and infer."

He added that those setting the question papers would be provided proper training.

Students who would experience the new process welcomed it. "The pre-exam pressure on us will be less now as we would know the topics four months in advance," said Shushant Raj, a Class XI student of St Karen's Secondary School.

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