With the CBSE announcing the Term 1 examinations for Class 10 and 12 in mid-November this year, the usual air of tension has started building up. After the pandemic disruption, this would be the first major examination conducted by CBSE. The board is taking cautious steps and has said that to prepare for any “unprecedented situation” that could arise because of the Covid-19 pandemic next year, it will conduct two sets of board exams. One will take place between November and December and the other between March and April 2022, for students in Class 10 and 12 in the current academic session 2021-22. The good thing is that the 90-minute Term 1 exam papers will be conducted with multiple-choice, optical mark recognition (MCQ-OMR) question sheets. So the obvious question is – how do we prepare for the examination better? But before we come to this, let’s quickly look at the circumstances that form this background.
As the pandemic struck us out of the blue, the initial phase was full of confusion. The school adopted a wait and watch policy with their fingers crossed. However, with the passage of time, the unpredictability of the future became a major concern. A sort of chaos descended with the digital teaching-learning environment becoming the only way to ensure continuity. Whether to redesign the lesson plans or to cope with the stress in navigating through the teaching and learning processes, to the hiccups of space crunches with the home itself transforming into a virtual classroom – everything created deep psychological, emotional, and health pressures on all. With the arrival of the so-called third phase after the summer break, the teaching and learning scenario became somehow steady. By now teachers had become better prepared with online tools and using learning resources with their students.
Now comes the challenge of conducting assessments and evaluations. This posed a really difficult situation. There were deep concerns about the possibility of students adopting unfair means during the online assessment. Since the announcement of school reopening, and the updates by CBSE with regard to assessments and evaluations, it has been decided that this academic year would be divided into two terms; the first term exams will be held in November and December while the second term exams will be held in March and April, with 50 percent syllabus in each term. The announcement has given respite to schools by the prospect of conducting physical assessments to overcome the challenges of online examinations. This document shared by CBSE gives details of the guidelines for projects/ internal assessments and syllabus to be covered in each suggested term. For the students of grades 3, 5, and 8, SAFAL program has been launched by CBSE. The program would be used to conduct student assessments to understand the progress of the student’s foundational skills and their basic learning outcomes and competencies.
With regard to exam preparation, Premavati Singla, a government school teacher in U.P. shares an interesting idea that teachers can employ to help students prepare well. She talks about a WhatsApp Revision Program, in which a revision schedule is launched for a month before examinations. A teacher can take 3-4 days to revise a chapter and this will be followed by a test on the same. On the day of the test, the teacher will post the test early in the morning around 4:30 am for a specified time limit to solve the test. The test will be taken under the supervision of the parents. On the same day, around 9:30 am (time only suggestive), the teacher will post the answer key for the given question paper. Students along with their parents can crosscheck their papers and rectify the errors by rewriting the answers. After completing a similar exercise for all the chapters, two final exams of 3 hrs. duration each can be set for the final preparation. This approach can help in a robust revision practice of the subject(s). While doing this exercise, the interest of the students in their studies also might improve.
One strategy to involve students in their learning is to invite them to be co-creators of their assessments. This might also help unburden teachers. Often when students wait for the test to be uploaded, they start sharing some interesting quiz questions. This can be an opportunity to ask them to prepare quiz questions for revision and the same can be conducted online as a game. Formulating such objective, quiz-type questions is also an important learning experience. The students can work in online group calls to design and also solve the questions other groups would have prepared. The idea is to create higher-order thinking questions with difficult to guess and mind-stimulating answers. For doing this, students need to explore the topics in-depth and decide amongst four competing multiple choices and all this needs a lot of deliberation and research. As the students formulate the questions and their options, they become familiar with many of the concepts apart from the ones covered in the textbook chapters. mentioned in the textbook. All the pillars of learning like knowledge, understanding, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation, are hence covered in the process and students start acquiring these skills unintentionally through such exercises. This brings out the idea of constructivist learning where students are constructing their own knowledge.
Now the students who are preparing for the exams, there are certain ways that could be helpful for them to do well in the exams. Understanding the ways marks are tabulated will go a long way for the students. CBSE has come up with a tabulation policy for the assessment structure for classes X , XI, and XII. Take a look at this carefully. Apart from it encouraging reading and learning for students CBSE has initiated the reading mission program. We have tried to list below some of the good practices that could be useful to perform best in exams. Please click here to know more about them.