Abhishek Choudhari, TNN | Aug 1, 2012,
NAGPUR: In what could be the biggest change made to the country’s education system, CBSE has decided to introduce the ‘open book exam’ concept for its board exams (Std X, XII) from the 2013-14 academic session. The central board’s chairman Vineet Joshi informed TOI that the new system will test “higher order thinking skills of students rather than their current reliance on a rote-based methodology”.
“But it won’t literally be an open book exam. It will be called the ‘Pre-Announced Test’ (PAT) and will be applicable for all Std X subjects and some major ones of Std XII,” he said.
Explaining the features of PAT, Joshi said, “Four months before the exam, students will be made aware of the test they are going to appear for. But the questions will not be simple and straightforward, they will test the students’ analytical power.”
A formal announcement with complete details regarding the new system is expected to be made in December this year. The HRD ministry had initiated the process and a reforms committee had been constituted to look into the concept. Sources in the board said that Joshi was heading the committee and its brief was to improve the education system to make it more ‘student-friendly’.
The committee tweaked the open book concept, followed in some western countries, to make it more relevant and acceptable here. “We were apprehensive about the reaction from other state boards if books are allowed inside exam halls,” said a highly placed source in the CBSE board. He was referring particularly to Maharashtra which had created a fuss over CBSE’s school-evaluated board exam for Std X students and refused them admission in state colleges.
PAT functions like the Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) system that some education boards, including Maharashtra, are implementing. In the SSC exam, an out-of-syllabus passage is given to students and they are asked questions that cannot be answered word-for-word just by looking at the matter. For example, if the passage has a line saying, ‘Rajesh goes to school everyday and learns about animals, new countries and math formulae’, the question would be ‘Why does Rajesh go to school?’ The expected answer would be he goes to school to increase his knowledge about the world around him.
Under PAT, the same passage would be taught to students four months before the exam. S/he is expected to analyse various relevant questions that could be asked. On the day of the CBSE exam, PAT will not produce the passage but there will be questions based on it.
It is still not clear yet how the board will implement PAT for Mathematics where formulae and values are part of almost every topic. By the time a formal announcement is made in December, the CBSE Board expects to iron out all issues.
Local schools in the city were unaware of board’s plan but say it does seem to be a step in the right direction. A school principal, who did not wish to be named, said, “Today, what matters on exam day is how well a student is able to recall what he has learnt. PAT will force a change of approach. Students will not be able to depend on guides.”
Another teacher said that teachers will now face a “new challenge”. “Having the test available in advance will certainly help and the focus will be on how well the student can comprehend the lesson,” she said. Those who set the question paper also face a challenge, according to this teacher. “No question will be repeated in successive exams and that requires a lot of innovative thinking,” she added.
In 2008, the Gujarat government had decided to implement the open book exam concept for its board exams but has not done yet. Also, some schools in Gujarat had experimented with the concept but it proved to be very tough and few students passed.
- Reforming evaluation method to test their intellect (thehindu.com)
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