The ISC exam began on Monday and for many students it will continue till the end of March.
The one-and-a-half month period would be a challenge where students would be expected to retain their mental alertness and physical fitness, said teachers and mental health professionals.
A psychiatrist said that in the run-up to the boards he has had several examinees coming for consultation because their parents think they “are not studying enough”.
The exam began on Monday with English language and about 21,000 students appeared on the first day of the school-leaving exam in Bengal. The second paper, English Paper II (literature), is on Tuesday. The exam will end on March 31.
Students have gaps of as long as nine to 16 days in between two exams depending on their combination.
For example, after English Paper II on Tuesday, some students will write their next exam on March 3 (Indian languages).
A student who will write Economics on February 24 will appear for the next paper (Accounts) on March 13.
Terence Ireland, principal, St James’ School, said that with so many subjects on offer at the ISC level it becomes difficult to prepare an exam schedule which could be completed in a shorter duration.
“The big gaps because of their subject combination works to their disadvantage because they find it difficult to concentrate over a long period of time,” he said.
“It is all the more difficult when you are going through the same content over and over again,” said psychiatrist Sanjay Garg.
Garg advises that instead of studying the entire syllabus over and over again which could lead to boredom and exhaustion, students should prepare flow charts so that they do not lose touch with a particular subject.
“Students look for more structured gaps but when they do not have that we tell them that they should split a long gap to study two subjects rather than one,” said Jessica Gomes Surana, principal of Loreto Convent Entally.
Parents and teachers fear about the tendency to relegate the subject before which there is a long gap.
Basanti Biswas, principal of Calcutta Girls’ High School, said that since students got the timetable about three months in advance there is a tendency to leave a paper with the longest gap for the last minute.
Deepshikha Bihani gave her son’s example.
“My son has a 16-day-gap before his accounts paper. Till the pre-boards he was studying all papers but after that I noticed that he is concentrating more on math and other subjects and is going easy with accounts thinking he will study entirely during the gap, which could be risky.”
The concern for many parents is that the child remains fit for this long period, a concern especially exaggerated and relevant after the scars of the Covid pandemic.
The ISC 2023 batch is writing their first board exam physically because their Class X boards had been scrapped.
Several schools have told their students to try and keep themselves fit because people are falling sick with fever, cold and sustained cough.
“Our teachers and counsellors have spoken to our students about the need to stay fit because a viral fever can continue for seven to 10 days,” said Seema Sapru, principal of The Heritage School. Psychiatrist Garg also insisted that students “take breaks in between studies and do activities that they enjoy”.