Education minister Vinod Tawde’s decision of providing 10 extra minutes to read the question paper stood Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) exam candidates in good stead on Saturday, with most managing to get through the usually lengthy language papers on time.
The provision has been introduced for the first time in the HSC exams that commenced on Saturday, with the aim of giving students sufficient time to read and understand the questions before attempting the exam.
Students who wrote their Marathi (02) exams on Saturday said they were able to manage time perfectly.
“The paper was lengthy but I could attempt all the questions as I had read the entire paper thoroughly before writing,” said Pranali Kharat, a commerce student from RA Podar College, Matunga.
“Having read the question paper, I knew which questions I was confident about. I answered those before moving on to the trickier ones,” said Labdhi Vora, arts student from Ramnarain Ruia College, Matunga, who appeared for her French paper.
Concerns had been raised the extra time would be used by students to cheat, and exam centres took precautions to prevent it. While some asked students to keep away their pens and pencils, others made them turn over their answer sheets for 10 minutes.
In a first, most exam centres reported students turning up on time for the exams.
“Students arrived on time to avail of the new provision. Usually, there are a lot of latecomers in every batch,” said Prashant Redij, a member of the flying squads that monitor exam centres.
To prevent cheating, students were not allowed to carry mobile phones inside the exam hall. But some centres, such as Ruia College, Matunga, went a step ahead, asking students to remove the battery from their phones before entering the exam hall. “A teacher was posted at the gate to check our bags and we were asked to switch off our phones and also take out the battery,” said Asmita Kadam, a student.
Also, after being pulled up by the Bombay high court, board members made arrangements for installing generators in certain exam centres, so that students are not inconvenienced by power cuts.