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CBSE to trial open-book exams for class 9-12; no plans for board adoption

February 23, 2024

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is considering a trial run of Open-Book Exams (OBE) in selected schools for classes 9 to 12 later this year. This idea was discussed in the last governing body meeting of the Board in December 2023. Officials revealed that the pilot will focus on subjects such as English, Mathematics, and Science for Classes 9 and 10, and English, Mathematics, and Biology for Classes 11 and 12. The primary objective is to assess the time taken by students to complete these tests and gather feedback from stakeholders.

The proposed plan aligns with the recommendations made in the National Curriculum Framework. During the pilot phase, which is expected to take place in November-December 2024, the CBSE aims to evaluate various aspects, including completion time, suitability for formative and summative assessment, and stakeholders’ perceptions. The pilot will specifically concentrate on assessing higher-order thinking skills, application, analysis, critical and creative thinking, and problem-solving abilities.

In an open-book exam, students are allowed to carry their notes, textbooks, or other study materials and refer to them during the examination. However, it’s clarified that there are no plans to adopt the OBE format in CBSE class 10 and 12 board examinations.

The CBSE had previously experimented with an Open Text-Based Assessment (OTBA) format for the year-end exams of Classes 9 and 11 from 2014-15 to 2016-17, but it was discontinued due to negative feedback from stakeholders. Building on this experience, discussions within the curriculum committee have emphasized the importance of high-quality textbooks and the involvement of teachers in the initial OBE trials to ensure standards akin to advanced placement exams.

During the governing body meeting, there were considerations about making teachers take the open-book exams first to grasp the “potential” of multiple answers in OBE questions. The CBSE chairman stressed the need to learn from Delhi University’s experiences to effectively calibrate CBSE’s OBE preparations. Jyoti Sharma, a professor from Delhi University, suggested considering Advanced Placement (AP) exams as a benchmark for drafting quality CBSE OBE content, highlighting their question clarity and quality.

Also read: CBSE not to award divisions or distinctions in class 10 & 12 exams

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