Open book exam: ‘Concept welcome but needs planned implementation’

Experts warn against bringing reform after reform, seek proper training for teachers

Principals of city schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) have welcomed the "open book exam" concept but academicians have warned that students and schools are being made to deal with "too many changes, too soon". Planned implementation, with adequate training of teachers, is key to making it a success, they said.

The "open book exam" concept has been introduced by CBSE for classes X and XII from next year. The CBSE had also, in the recent past, introduced assessment reforms like the "school-based assessment system" and "continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE)". The new concept does not exacly allow students to carry textbooks inside the exam hall but will inform them in advance (four months) about the chapters and paragraphs from which analytical questions would be asked in the exam.

According to CBSE chairman Vineet Joshi, it would test the 'higher order thinking skills' (HOTS) of students besides helping them to stop relying on a rote-based methodology.

"It would be a Pre-Announced Test (PAT)... the questions asked will not be simple and straightforward, They will framed in a way that will test a student's analytical skills," he said.

Many principals of CBSE schools said the concept was aimed at correcting the "wrongs in the system". Deepshikha Srivastava, principal of Rajhans Vidyalaya that introduced the open book concept last year in class XI, said the proposal would work if the teachers are first trained and acquainted with the assessment system.

"With a sudden change in the class XI curriculum, we felt that students were finding it difficult to absorb the content. Thus we started the open book concept in their assignments and it worked well to a certain extent. The aim was to ensure that students read the entire book and understand the content, instead of reading certain chapters for giving common entrance tests," she said.

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