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Pass, by the grace of math
- ISC council works out special marking system for ‘tough’ questions

If a student scores less than 28 in this year’s ISC math exam, blame it on not trying.

The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations has taken cognisance of complaints about the Class XII math paper being “too tough” and decided to grant full or partial marks against specific questions as long as students attempted to solve these problems.

The special grace marks will ensure that the mark sheet of a student who attempted all the questions but did not get even one right shows at least “28” rather than “0”. Examinees may score less than 28 if they skipped the tough problems — parts of questions 1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14 and 15 in section A — and got less than three or four of the rest right.

Wednesday was the last day for evaluation of the math answer scripts, a teacher said.

Sources said the council decided to award the grace marks after a meeting with the chief examiners, co-chief examiners and coordinating examiners for math in Delhi last month.

The maximum grace marks against compulsory question No. 1 in section A of the paper will be 11 out of 30. Nabarun Dey, the general secretary of the Association of Heads of ICSE Schools in Calcutta, said the question had 10 sub-parts, but not all of them were difficult to solve.

From the rest of Section A, students were to answer five questions out of eight.

The instructions issued by the council to examiners recommend grace marks based on which part of a particular question was tough.

The grace-marking advisory for Section A reads: 5 out 5 for question No. 4a, 2 out of 5 for 4b, 5 out 5 for 6a, 1 out of 5 for 8b and 1 out of 5 for 9b.

Those who had attempted question Nos. 4, 6, 8 and 9 in this section would be entitled to a maximum of 14 grace marks.

There were two other sections in the paper — B and C — of which students needed to answer one. The grace-marking pattern for these two sections is: 1 out 5 for 11b, 2 out 5 for 12a, 2 out 5 for 14b and 2 out 5 for 15b.

Those who attempted to solve questions 11 and 12 in Section B would get a maximum of 3 grace marks even if they didn’t get the answers right. Those who opted to solve the problems in Section C would be entitled to a maximum of 4 grace marks.

According to teachers in city schools, students from the science stream who were good in math didn’t face much of a problem despite some of the questions being tricky.

“These were not out-of-syllabus questions. But some problems in certain topics like ellipse and integration were not of the type that you would expect in the ISC exam,” examiner Sutapa Chatterjee said.

Most math teachers admitted that the ratio of easy and tough questions was skewed this year. “In previous years, the ISC math paper would be a combination of easy and difficult questions so that all categories of students — average, brilliant and below average — could at least clear the exam. It appears that the number of questions for the average students was less this time,” a teacher said.

Students from the arts and commerce streams who had math as one of their compulsory papers were the ones who faced the most difficulty.

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