Higher Secondary will hit the multiple-choice trail in 2015, giving students in Bengal the chance to score higher even as it prevents predictive preparation for the exams.
The decision to introduce a mix of multiple choice and short-answer questions along with project work follows the pattern of CBSE and ISC, both of which discourage learning by rote and yet allow students to score high in their exams.
“Short-answer questions will account for 35 per cent of the marks at stake in science and 40 per cent in arts and commerce. Each science paper will have multiple-choice questions worth 21 marks and short-answer questions that carry 14 marks,” an official said.
In subjects without practical tests, examinees would have to answer multiple-choice questions worth 24 marks. Short-answer questions will carry 16 marks and general questions 40 marks. The remaining 20 marks will be for project work.
The current Class XI batch will be the first to try out the new format in their annual test next year before the real thing in HS 2015.
As of now, no HS paper has multiple-choice questions. There is no project work either. Short-answer questions account for only 20 per cent of the marks, the same as practical tests.
The new model was finalised on Tuesday at a meeting between teachers of HS schools and officials of the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education. The decision to overhaul the HS pattern had been taken in April.
“There was a need to revise the pattern of HS to bring it on a par with other board exams. We started the process several months ago and now that it is complete, we intend implementing the model for Class XI in 2014 and then in HS 2015,” council president Mahua Das said.
Education minister Bratya Basu had promised more “objective-type questions” to increase the potential for high scoring and enable students from Bengal to compete with their counterparts from other boards.
The HS council had been trying to reduce subjectivity in the evaluation of answer scripts over the past few years to get over the problem of lower average scores than those of CBSE and ISC examinees.
“The council woke up late but it is a good step nevertheless. The Delhi boards had adopted the high-scoring model long ago. If we are able to implement the new pattern effectively, our students will also score well,” said a veteran teacher at a reputable English-medium HS school in south Calcutta.
In HS 2013, barely 0.05 per cent students scored over 90 per cent. The figure was around 25 per cent in ISC and CBSE.
While the heads of several schools said students under the state board would now be able to score higher, a section of teachers spoke about the flip side of the change.
“It is not as if HS has become an easier exam. Students will have to be thorough with their texts if they want to do well under the new format,” a teacher of economics said.
The introduction of short-answer questions also means that papers will be less predictable.
“Many students pick questions that have been repeated over some years and focus on these, ignoring the possibility of encountering something they don’t know about. Such a pattern of preparing for the HS exam can spell disaster once the new system takes effect,” a school principal said.
Sujata Chatterjee, principal of Gokhale Memorial Girls’ Higher Secondary School, advised students to always opt for comprehensive rather than selective study.
“Remember that you have to be thorough. Learn the entire syllabus well, never go with only a few chosen topics,” she said.
The heads of some schools complained that the HS council was yet to communicate to them how the new system would work. “The council’s decision has come abruptly. It will be difficult for the Class XI students to adjust to the system by next March, when they are scheduled to write the annual test,” said a mathematics teacher.
DIVISION OF MARKS IN THE NEW HIGHER SECONDARY MODEL
| A 2013 HS examinee
SUBJECTS WITHOUT PRACTICAL TESTS
- Multiple-choice questions: 24
- Short-answer questions: 16
- Long-answer questions: 40
- Project work: 20
SUBJECTS WITH PRACTICAL TESTS
- Short-answer questions: 14
- General questions: 35
- Practicals: 30
- Study the syllabus thoroughly
- Refrain from selective/predictive studying
- Attend classes regularly
SCHOOLS NEED TO…
- Introduce more
- Hold more class
- Give more individual attention to students