The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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New Newton in exam

New Delhi, Sept. 17: Old exam papers will no longer help students guess what questions they might face in the Central Board of Secondary Education’s Class X and Class XII exams.

From next year, the CBSE will abandon its decades- old policy of dipping into a ready question bank and repeating questions every few years. But the shift actually goes deeper.

Students will no longer be asked to state Newton’s laws, Huygens’ Principle or other principles and laws in science papers. Instead, a practical situation will be described and the examinees will have to apply their understanding of scientific laws to answer the question.

“We are once and for all ending the practice of asking students to state laws or principles,” board chairman Ashok Ganguly told The Telegraph.

He explained the change as a shift from a pattern of questions where students faced “most of the same” to one where their “higher-order thinking skills” will be tested.

The decision comes after decades of examinations where students who memorised their textbooks generally emerged toppers, officials said.

The Class X science theory paper, which carried 75 marks till last year, will now be worth just 60. The rest will attach to the practicals. The number of marks devoted to “very small questions” remains at nine.

Mathematics question papers will no longer pose a series of abstract numerical problems. Instead, the board promises to introduce — once again — problems based on real-life situations.

So, a Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who finds mention in an NCERT textbook, may also figure on an exam paper next year, officials said, clarifying this was merely an example.

For instance, students may be given certain numerical information from which they have to work out the cricketer’s batting average. The board will make sample question papers available by the end of this month.

“The decision reflects a change in our philosophy. After all, an exam is not merely a speed test,” Ganguly said.

Twenty per cent marks in non-language papers will be reserved for questions that, if answered correctly, would mean “the student is smarter than most teachers”, he said.

The percentage of marks dedicated to the “tough” questions may be increased in later years.

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