This year, science students have a double dilemma: preparing for the CBSE Boards and the Indian Institute of Technology-joint entrance exam (IIT-JEE).
With these two crucial exams falling around the same time, students are buckling under the pressure of performing well in both.
The pressure is mounting and with three weeks left for the exams, students are unable to equally divide time between preparing for the Boards and the entrances.
While the board exams for all science students end on April 13, the IIT test will be held on April 8."My parents have told me that I cannot drop a year in any circumstance. I have no option but to prepare for the IIT and other engineering entrances along with the board exams. It is a lot of pressure because I feel that I may end up under-performing in both," said Amit Sinha (name changed), a student of Delhi Public School, Mathura Road.
Principals say that the problem has more to do with the increasing number of students appearing for the entrances, which makes it tougher to crack these exams. At the same time, they say not being able to crack the test is not the end of the road.
"Students have to crack the board exams no matter what. It is a choice that they don't have. If they are well prepared, the pressure does not matter. The competition is increasing because of the sheer number. But they must keep in mind this is not the end of the world and there is a world of opportunities for them," said Lata Vaidyanathan, principal, Modern School (Barakhamba Road).
The faculty at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi stress that parents need to understand the kind of pressure their expectations put on their children.
"Several lakh students from across the country appear for the IIT entrance exam but a lot of them have weaknesses. That is something that the parents need to accept and not put undue and unnecessary pressure on the children. This is just the first of the entrances," said Rakesh Sharma, registrar, IIT Delhi.
Students have the option of appearing for other entrances such as the AIEEE, Birla Institute of Technology and Science-Pilani, West Bengal joint entrance exam, COMED -K and Vellore Institute of Technology, among others.
"There are many other institutes which are as good as the IITs and not being able to make it to one of the IITs is not the end of the road," added Sharma.
An extra push from schools
As the board examinations draw near and students dig deeper into books — learning and revising — schools are playing an integral part in preparing them to face the heat.
Principals say the Boards are not much of a problem because the habit of taking exams is inculcated in the students from a very early stage.
"From the very start, students are taught to take exams in their stride and, in the larger scheme of things, these exams are a very small factor. Yet, what stresses the students out, more than the exam itself, is the thought of making it to a good college. They feel that even if they secure 95%, they may not be able to make it to a college of their choice," said Jyoti Bose, principal, Springdales School (Dhaula Kuan).
Teachers across different streams have gone the extra mile to provide adequate guidance to the students by providing question banks, to giving practice sheets and telling students what kind of questions can be expected in the exams.
While teachers from the humanities stream prepare answers with students, English teachers pay closer attention to aspects such as writing skills.
"Students keep approaching their teachers and it is the finer nuances of this interaction that builds a student's confidence. Teachers have their own strategy of preparing the kids for exams. But in the long run students have to understand that there are several choices for them if they don't make it through a particular course," said Bose.In the NCR region, too, schools are pitching in by taking down the e-mail addresses of students to send them sample papers.
"We are focusing on remedial classes. There are only five students in each group and teachers discuss the important topics with the students. In addition, we are also focusing on regular counselling and open talk sessions with the children," said Aditi Misra, principal, Delhi Public School (Gurgaon).