Results for West Bengal’s higher secondary state examination indicate that students will struggle to get on merit lists across colleges this year given the low numbers of top scorers.
Only a mere 5.6% of students scored above 80% marks – a benchmark that is increasingly becoming the norm among students. However, the pass percentage is up by 1.27%.
For students taking the West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education (WBCHSE), the problem lies in matching up to their peers from other central education boards, such as the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Indian School Certificate (ISC).
“We know that compared to ISC and CBSE boards, not many of our students have made it above 80% mark. But we are changing our system, and gradually, this scenario will change. Moreover the top of the mountain always has less space,” said WBCHSE president, Mahua Das.
Over the years, most of the seats in sought-after colleges have typically gone to students of CBSE and ISC. Principals from these colleges expect the same to be the case this year too.
Of the 7.89 lakh students who appeared for the exam, only 3,829 WBCHSE students managed to score above 90% marks, a mere 0.6% of the total. Further, only 35,860 students scored between 89% and 80% marks.
Prof Ajoy Roy, director of Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST), says the pressure on WBCHSE students to perform well has only increased.
“It has now become extremely necessary to ensure the students in higher secondary score well when compared to those in CBSE and ISC. Or else our students are missing out on best colleges in the country. Score normalisation has to be the next step.”
In order to boost the scoring pattern in higher secondary examinations, the WBCHSE introduced new evaluation patterns since 2015. The question paper had about 40% one mark questions, including multiple choice questions and the rest were scored between two and five mark questions. Subjects with no practical exam were given a project for 20 marks.
But the change has so far failed to boost the average high scoring mark.
Instead 53.86% students scored below 60%, making admission to general degree courses tough. This year, 3,35,118 students scored below 60%.
There is a silver lining though; students from humanities and commerce featured in the list of top 10 rank holders. “Scoring in humanities is not easy. We feel that the entry of these students in the merit list shows how the change in syllabus and examination system has made the exam more scoring. Now, with all non-lab based subjects having 20 marks of project works and short questions, the scope of scoring more has gone up,” said Das.
East Midnapore district continued to have the highest pass percentage at 92.38%. Kolkata came third with 87.56%. The city of joy had another reason to cheer –of 56 students featured in the top 10 merit list, 11 belonged to the city.