Joshua Rodicks plays FIFA 2008, a computer game, to take a break from his books. This is one of the precious few moments he squeezes out of his rigorous study schedule. A Class 10 student, Rodicks begins studying at eight in the morning and continues late into the night. The SSC exams will begin on February 25, and Rodicks is already tired of his books. <b1>
It is that dreaded month when many teenagers sit behind closed doors in the company of their textbooks. As board exams begin at the end of the month, students are trying everything from mock exams to 18-hour-a-day study plans to visiting temples.
To add to their stress, this is the first year of the new SSC and HSC syllabi, revised after 10 years. “There is no previous format to fall back on, which leaves us clueless,” said Rodicks.
The new syllabus has 20 marks internal assessments for all language subjects, Maths and Social Sciences. Theory papers will be marked out of 80 and languages will have a 20-mark oral internal assessment exam. Also, three new subjects — environment studies, physical training and personality development — have been introduced, which will be graded.
With the introduction of oral exams this year, the board will ensure that in-house teachers conduct them properly.
“This year, there will be flying squads visiting colleges for oral exams too. Moreover, we have asked all five divisions to make arrangements to see to it that supervision is strict,” said Vijaysheela Sardesai, SSC board chairperson.
This year too the board will depute flying squads to check for cheating cases during external exams. “Video shooting at sensitive centres will also continue,” said Sardesai.
City schools consider the new syllabus student-friendly. “It is stress free. The oral examinations test the students’ communication skills, important for their future,” said Father Francis Swamy, principal, Holy Family School, Andheri. “It is a holistic syllabus and not just about last-minute cramming.”
Basanti Roy, head of the Mumbai division of the SSC board, said the pattern was devised to take into account the student’s progress through the year. “New-age subjects have been introduced to prepare students for their career. After the exams, we will hold a workshop for examiners on paper corrections,” said Roy.
Other boards like the ICSE and CBSE too will begin their examinations at the end of the month. “The exam pattern now focuses on how a student comprehends a concept and not on how well he remembers it.
Current affairs questions too can be expected so students have to keep track of the news,” said Vrinda Malse, principal, Navy Public School.
“For example, spelling mistakes in a science paper will not lead to negative marking as long as the concept is understood. Even in Maths, if your steps are right but your answer wrong, you may only lose one mark.”