Boards 2021: From syllabus cut to more MCQs – most state and central boards change exam pattern

Following the steps of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), most of the board exams this year will have MCQs as a considerable part of their exams. Further, the timelines for the boards has also been deferred in most cases.

Boards 2021: To make up for the loss of instructional hours and lack of physical classrooms due to the pandemic, state, and central boards have decided to introduce minor changes in the upcoming board exams. Following the steps of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), most of the boards this year will introduce multiple-choice questions (MCQs) in their exams, further, the timelines for the boards have also been deferred in most cases.

CBSE has already postponed its exams till May-June. Now, 10th and 12th class exams will be held between May 4 and June 10. These exams are usually held in February-March. As Education Minister Ramesh Pokhiryal Nishank earlier announced that there will be no exams till February 2021, thus most state boards are also expected to postpone their timelines. The Maharashtra School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad has also stated that MSBSHSE classes 10 and 12 board exams will not be held before April-May 2021. The state board has also decided to curtail the syllabus by 25 per cent.

Exams on reduced syllabus

Reducing syllabus has also been another common trend across boards. The central boards — CBSE and CISCE — have reduced the syllabus by 30 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively. Other state boards like Madhya Pradesh, UP Board, and Rajasthan — where nearly a million students appear for the board exams — have decided to cut the syllabus by 30 per cent.

However, the Bihar School Education Board (BSEB) has not reduced its syllabus but the model papers that have been uploaded recently on their official website clearly show a change in the exam pattern.

Both intermediate and matric exams will have a choice for almost every question. For instance, for 10 questions asked in the exam, one can expect a choice of 10 more questions to choose from. While the number of questions to be answered remain the same for a student. The increased number of choices is expected to make it easier for the students to score better.

However, BSEB aspirants are not happy. Without a syllabus cut or more time to prepare like in the case of many other boards, students are feeling that they can be on a disadvantageous side while applying for admission to colleges. Many students have also taken to social media to voice their concerns.

For TS Inter exams or Telangana board exams, there has not been any major change in the exam pattern. However, the syllabus has been reduced by 30 per cent. Further, there are expected to be more internal choices as compared to last year. The board is yet to announce the exam dates.

MCQs, application-based questions for all

CBSE had introduced MCQs in their board exams in 2020. The same has been advocated under the New Education Policy (NEP) which says that the board exams need to assess the understanding levels of students instead of how much they can mug-up. The NEP suggests making board exams low stakes. The CBSE has said that it will have more application-based questions and more case-study based questions to assess the understanding abilities of students. This can also result in more MCQs in board exams 2021.

Likewise, CISCE has also announced to bifurcate the 10 marks exams for English and mathematics into 80 marks theory exam and 20 marks for project work.

MPBSE or Madhya Pradesh board has gone a step further and announced that not only the exams will be held on a syllabus curtailed by 30 per cent, there will also be at least 30 per cent MCQs in every subject. While MCQs have been added, the length of answers has also been reduced. There will be no long-form questions in the upcoming boards. The highest marks assigned to each question will be four and students will have to write 125 to 150 word-long answers for these.

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