The Bengal higher secondary exams began on Saturday and many candidates said their chief concern was whether they would be able to write all the answers in the stipulated time, 10am to 1.15pm, because their hands ached.
The long absence from in-person classes has made writing difficult for many, all public exams in the past few months have shown.
The HS students did not have to write class tests and the Class XI annual exams because of the pandemic.
No board exams were held last year because of a rise in Covid cases.
On Saturday, the buzz typical of a board exam was felt in schools after a year’s break.
Teachers said students were shaking their hands frequently to get rid of stiffness in their fingers.
Many examinees said they had to rest their hand before moving to the next question.
Om Gupta, who wrote the exam at Sanskrit Collegiate School, said an hour into the exam, his fingers were aching so much that he had to take a break for around 10 minutes.
“All the students in our room did that. Other than the rehearsal exams in December, we did not have to write any exams in two years. In online classes, there was not much scope to write,” Gupta said.
Most students Metro spoke to said the language papers on Day 1 were easy.
Across the state, 7.45 lakh examinees are writing the exams at 6,727 centres.
The students are writing the exams in their own schools and being invigilated by their schoolteachers.
Anushka Khanra, a student of Sakhawat Memorial Government Girls’ High School, said: “Even under normal circumstances, one struggles to complete the answers in language papers on time. The long absence of physical classes meant we did not have adequate writing practice. But easy questions and the advantage of writing at a centre we are familiar with helped.”
Avhranil Mondal, a student of Uttarpara Government School, said: “I was anxious before the exam about whether I would be able to write for three hours at a stretch. After the initial jitters, there was no problem.”
Many guardians accompanied the examinees to school. Some of them looked more anxious than the students.
At Scottish Church Collegiate School, students were seen doing last-minute revisions.