Students will need to be far more systematic to take full benefit of the continuous assessment. It requires the student to be regular and make sure to score in all the unit tests/assignments and other intermediate exams. In a way, this is better than the end-of-the-year marathon that a Board exam entails.
However, parents and students will take a while to adapt to the new system. The focus becomes much more on the Class XII board exam and Class X becomes a bit more like other classes.
Will the scrapping of the board exam for Class X dull or brighten students' prospects of getting into the IITs or medical colleges? I don't think it has much impact. For the serious student intending to go on to engineering/medical college, passing Class X was never a question. Considering the nature of competitiveness today a student should focus on what he/she wishes to achieve subsequently. One can also benefit from available study resources which have expanded significantly.
What do we wish incoming students to have apart from theoretical knowledge? In modern professional life, the student's independent thinking and practical capability counts far more. As such, a student who is inquisitive, can research a topic on his own, can articulate and communicate this effectively is far more valuable than one who has only good exam-taking ability.
It is also import for students in engineering to have practical understanding and it is a nice learning experience to do a co-operative student project to build controllers, software and mechanicals, for instance, of a solar-powered cart or a compressed-air-powered mechanical device or other innovative contraptions at the high school level.
The author is a professor of computer science and engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi