Should there be two Board exams a year? Here’s what experts have to say

The National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for School Education 2023 was released by the Union Minister of Education, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan on August 23, 2023. According to the recommendations made in the NCF, the way students take exams might change in the future. They could have two chances to sit for their Board exams in classes X and XII. However, appearing for Class 10 and 12 board exams twice a year will not be mandatory for students, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told PTI in an interview on Sunday. The news agency has quoted the minister saying, “If any student feels that he is completely prepared and is satisfied with the score in the first set of exams, he can choose not to appear for the next exams,” the minister said. “Nothing will be mandatory.” This optional exam could help improve their scores in the second chance, allowing them to keep the best scores. Nevertheless, experts are divided in their opinions on this recommendation. In an exclusive interview with TOI Education, luminaries from the realm of education shed light on the pros and cons of two Board exams a year.
The second Board exam won’t have too much of an impact: Mr. Ashok Pandey, Director, Ahlcon Group of Schools
“The recommendation of two Board exams a year in the NCF has created a misconception that every student will have to sit for two assessments from the next year or the subsequent one. However, that is not the case. Let me put it in perspective. Taking two Board exams is optional, not a binding on the students. This is just a second opportunity for them to improve upon their scores, only if they want to. Also, if the marks don’t improve at the second attempt, then the best marks out of the two will be retained. Best universities across the world offer the provision of Exam on demand. We will also take that route, but it will take some time.
All said and done, I don’t think this optional exam will have too much of an impact on the students, especially on those who will go to college. I am assuming that the second test will be conducted around July if the result of the first exam is out by the end of April or beginning of May. The result of the improvement test will be out in August at the earliest. By that time, Class XII students will take admission to a college on the basis of their marks in the first exam. Also, in most cases, the marks secured in the entrance exam is all that matters for them, not the Board exam result.
As far as class 10 Board exams are concerned, students will be taking their second exam while they are in class 11 already. Currently, admissions take place in this class on the basis of their performances in class 9 and the Pre-Board examination of class 10. So, what happens is, when the Board result is out, their streams are changed on the basis of that. In case of the improvement test too, there will be the advantage of changing to a preferred stream if the scores get better. However, there are quite a few ambiguities about the flexibility that this two-exam recommendation offers. One of my questions is, ‘In the new system, if implemented, can a student write a few exams during the first Boards in March and others during the second exam? I haven’t found the answer to this yet.’”
There’s a lot of ambiguity about the new recommendations: Dr. Ameeta M. Wattal, Chairperson & Executive Director, Education, Innovations and Training- DLF Foundation Schools and Scholarship Programmes
“The proposal for two Board exams a year with the option for improvement raises concerns about creating an unnecessary window for competition and stress. The constant cycle of exams might hinder students’ growth and development. Moreover, there’s still a lot of ambiguity about this format, the most important being the time of the optional exam. Let’s assume it will be held in July. The Board exams finish by about mid-April and between this month and July, students have to focus on a host of important exams such as JEE, NEET, CUET. It will be tough for them to allot time for this additional test during their busy schedule through these months. Most importantly, the marks secured in Board exams hardly have any impact on these competitive exams.
Also, there is no clarity on whether students have to appear for all the papers in the optional improvement exam or they can choose the papers they want to improve. Ideally, they should be offered that choice.
Every year, CBSE conducts improvement exams for the candidates who have already qualified the class 10th or 12th Board examination but haven’t secured a desirable score. Improvement exams could benefit students who had a bad day during their initial exams. However, there’s no guarantee that the second attempt will yield better results, and the stress of preparing for another exam should be considered. The synchronization between school board exams, improvement exams, and entrance exams needs to be carefully considered to ensure that students that have adequate time to prepare and avoid undue stress.
Not too many students are likely to go for the improvement exam: Dr. Sudha Acharya, Principal, ITL Public School
“Now the importance of Board exam has reduced because students are focussing on highly competitive exams such as CUET, NEET and JEE among others. Board exam has now become a qualifier. Earlier, it was an achievement test. So, I don’t think a lot of students will go for improvement. However, an improvement test may make more sense for Class X Board examinees as a good score will help them choose their desired stream at the best school.”

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