Anxious class 12 students and their parents can breathe a little easy.
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) said it will scale down the difficulty level of the class 12 mathematics question paper next year after an unusually tough exam drove millions of students to tears and hurt their scores.
The board announced on Wednesday evening a revamp of the paper’s pattern, introducing short-answer type questions carrying two marks and reducing the number of controversial higher-order thinking skills (HOTS) questions.
The HOTS questions will now carry only 10 marks and will be split into two sections of four and six marks. Students will also be given more choice.
Teachers welcomed the move, saying the tough HOTS questions were responsible for raising the difficulty level of the paper this year as they carried substantial weightage.
“HOTS questions are tricky and for the past two years, they have been exceptionally tough. It is good that they will be restricted to only 10% now,” a maths teacher at a school in Mumbai’s Santacruz said.
The short-answer type questions will make the paper easier, teachers said. This is the first time that the board has brought in two-mark questions.
“Shorter questions require less time to solve and will help students in completing the paper on time,” the teacher said.
The CBSE categorised 20% of the paper as easy, 60% as average and 20% as difficult.
Students depend on their maths scores to boost their grades in the class 12 examination, which is crucial for college entrances where cut-offs regularly touch 98-99%.
But this year, many were unable to finish the tough and lengthy maths paper that, students said, was responsible for lower scores.
The CBSE was flooded with complaints about the daunting March 14 examination and an alleged question paper leak in the Patna region. It even triggered a debate in Parliament, with the government promising an inquiry into the reported leak and complaints that questions were extremely difficult.
Following this, the board held meetings with schools and teachers seeking suggestions to change the paper pattern. It constituted an expert committee to come up with remedial measures to look into the issue and officials said students were marked leniently.
Teachers admitted that marks in mathematics had affected the overall percentage of students. Commerce and science stream students were hit the most. At Apeejay School in Mumbai’s Kharghar, for example, the average score in maths fell to 78% from 87% last year.