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  • Writer's pictureRupangana Gupta

Exploring the Implications of the New Board Exam System

Imagine that it's the last 1 minute of the exam, you are furiously writing. The clock is ticking, you can feel your heartbeat pulsing. You see your classmates around, some of their faces tense as they struggle to recall an important concept, some asking for the stewarded extra sheet whilst others finishing before time leaving you even more anxious. 


Did I manage to transport you to such a nerve wrecking time?

 

From nursery to 10th grade, the word that manages to induce fear in us all is “board exams”.

Exam pressure can be hard and the idea of boards can be even more intimidating. 

Or in the words of Aamir Khan in ‘3 Idiots’, “Dimaag ka pressure cooker”.


While exams can teach us important skills such as time management, handling pressure, and at times aid our learning, they also induce a lot of stress. 


A National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) survey released in September 2022 found that about 80 percent of students in grades 9-12 suffer from anxiety due to exams and results.

I vividly remember the horror when I realized I  had accidentally skipped a major question in my midterm social science exam. I  can only imagine how pressurizing it would be if this were a final board exam.  


The major challenge that is often encountered during exams is that everything boils down to one singular day. A child could encounter a multitude of challenges on the day of the examination. They could have a health crisis, a family emergency, a bout of nervousness, a delay in reaching the examination centre and so on…

Therefore it can be very disheartening if our capabilities or societal perceptions are judged on the basis of that. So many factors need to align for the exam to go smoothly.


There are also multiple lasting effects of exam pressure 


I often hear my friends with rigorous exam schedules not getting a brink of sleep at night and being so exhausted after the exam is over that all they can think about is having a good nap. In such a state, can any student perform their best? 


A lot of us are still figuring out who we are, our skill sets and our passions. But one singular board exam that is said to come with such a stamp of our self worth can be quite detrimental. Often times I have seen the never-ending barrage of phone calls from neighbors, chacha-chachis, mama-mamis and all the uncle aunties of the world. Everybody from the grocery shop wale uncle to family friends want to know ‘boards mei kitne aaye?’. And of course the comparison to ‘Sharma uncle ka beta’ just doesn't seem to end. In this scenario, it becomes extremely difficult to maintain our composure whilst giving the exam and not get disheartened if we are unable to perform to our fullest. 


There have been numerous unfortunate cases of student suicides due to board exam pressure too. It is just heartbreaking that students have taken their own lives due to the amount of societal expectation and strain placed on them because of exams.


The alarming frequency of student suicides presents a bleak reality. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data from 2021 showed that student suicides were at a five-year high with more than 13,000 students dying by suicide in that year, an uptick from 12,500 in the previous year.

In 2020, a student died by suicide every 42 minutes, according to the NCRB data. A point to note is that NCRB data is an undercount, according to a Lancet study. On an average, suicide rates reported by NCRB were 37 per cent lower than the rates reported by Global Burden of Disease published by Lancet — meaning that for every 100 suicides in the country, only 63 are reflected in NCRB data.


Change in exam pattern 


In order to reduce some of the pressure of board exams, there has been a new curriculum framework put into place. 


During the 2025-26 academic session, students will get an opportunity to appear for 10th and 12th class board exams twice. According to the New Curriculum Framework (NCF) announced by the Ministry of Education in August last year, board examinations will be held at least twice a year to ensure that students have enough time and opportunity to perform well. They will also get the option to retain the best score. 


This dramatic change in the way that board exams shall be conducted concerns both parents and students. Therefore their opinion on this is paramount. While it can be seen as a positive change in multiple aspects it also gives rise to concerns and challenges alongside it.


Various experts, educators, parents and students have shared their opinions on the same. Some tend to believe that this is a fantastic idea since it will reduce the academic pressure on students, while others talk about quality over quantity, and some take into consideration the logistical issues that could accompany this system.


I believe that each and every system has its own pros and cons. I personally recognise that the new CBSE policy and exam system incorporating 2 board exams can be extremely beneficial for some but also has its own set of challenges and drawbacks.


The Benefits


  • Reduced workload - if the syllabus is divided, the student will have to prepare for less topics at once which means they shall not have as much workload as in the case of a singular exam. This promotes consistent studying and learning throughout the whole year. They could take time to go through each concept thoroughly because of the division of syllabus between the two exams. 

  • Improved mental well being - The reduced pressure because of two exams instead of a singular exam would reduce the mental stress that the exam could pose on students.

  • Chance to improve - Since there would be 2 examinations conducted the students would get an opportunity to work on their weak areas and enhance their performance in the next examination.


The Challenges


  • Some students might feel compelled to give both exams, even if it would suit them more to give one. This could be because they wouldn't want to risk not giving one exam, which could defeat the purpose of having a convenient option and instead would just add pressure and mean an increase in workload. 

  • Fatigue due to the exam cycle - sitting in a major exam that defines your grade requires mental concentration, preparation and rigorous studying. Appearing for the exam twice along with preparing for competitive exams or extracurricular activities and practical assessment can be exhausting for the student. 

  • It would require two fold management of logistics, resources etc for the people managing board evaluation. Organizing the centres for board exams, student allocation, evaluation etc, requires large scale management. This shall have to take place twice in this case 



My advice to all my readers as a student who shall be appearing for 12th boards this year is that exams are one learning experience. There are many opportunities that will follow us in our lives. While we must try to perform our best in them, we must also understand that it's completely alright if we are unable to do as well as we expected of ourselves. What is precious is our indomitable seeking spirit to learn and grow. As long as we keep our inner child awake, who is full of curiosity and has a zest for life, success is bound to follow. 

If this board exam throws lemons at us we can and will still make lemonade in life. 


Written by Rupangana Gupta








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