The Central Board of Secondary Education promised remedial measures on Wednesday after an unusually tough and lengthy Class 12 mathematics paper drove millions of students to tears across the country and triggered a debate in Parliament.
The CBSE was flooded with online complaints about the daunting paper for the March 14 exam and faced flak too over a reported question leak in the Patna region.
A circular issued by the CBSE said feedback received from students, subject teachers and examiners will be placed before the committee of subject experts. “Remedial measures could be in the form of lenient checking,” board chairman YSK Seshukumar said.
Board officials said students will get marks for following correct steps to solve a problem even if they failed to get answer right. More than a million students in the country appeared for the exam.
Students complained that they had to do elaborate calculations even for a one-mark question. For four-mark questions, calculations ran into pages.
“Sections B and C were particularly tough, it took me nearly a half-an-hour to answer one of the questions,” said Shubhankar Mishra, a Class 12 student from Rajhans Vidyalaya in Mumbai’s Andheri. “This is also the first time that I needed 45 pages to answer a maths paper. My friends said it was tougher than last year.”
The board had drawn criticism for setting a difficult maths paper in 2015 as well. The committee of subject experts reworked the marking scheme when answer-scripts were checked.
Students, who demanded a retest or grace marks to compensate for the difficulty level, said the 2016 paper was tougher than last year’s exam.
A high score in mathematics is imperative as it is expected to drive the overall percentage of marks obtained by the student and is crucial for college entrances, where cut-offs regularly touch 98-99%.
Parents complained that the paper was as difficult as the IIT entrance test. “There is so much pressure on the kids because of Delhi University’s abysmally high cut-offs,” said Sonu Anand, a parent in New Delhi.
“Moreover, kids planning to study abroad must have conditional marks. There will be suicides, depression, lack of confidence, and psychological problems.”
The principal of Ahlcon International School in the Capital, Ashok Pandey, said he has written to the CBSE authorities. “Testing students is fine but we should not test their nerves. These marks are going to affect their future.”
The CBSE echoed prominently in Parliament too with the government promising an inquiry into the reported paper leak and complaints that the questions were extremely difficult.
Parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the matter deserves an inquiry after members from different parties raised the topic in the Lok Sabha. “An inquiry will be done and action will be taken,” he said.
NK Premchandran from the RSP and Congress’s KC Venugopal said most questions were very difficult and not from the syllabus.
Venegopal sought the Union human resource development minister’s intervention, saying papers were leaked in north India while even many bright students in the southern parts found the questions tough.
The BJP’s Ramesh Bidhuri blamed the previous government, alleging the UPA had set up a system that tries to “suppress bright Indian students”.
At this, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge wondered aloud why the BJP keeps blaming the UPA rule for everything even after two years in power.