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Think before you write

For humanities papers, write precise answers to improve scores, pay attention to short-answer questions and stay updated on current affairs

education Updated: Feb 22, 2012 18:21 IST
Gauri Kohli
Gauri Kohli
Hindustan Times

In the last two weeks, science and commerce teachers from few schools in Delhi NCR have shared useful tips with Class 12 students taking the CBSE board exams starting March. This week, we focus on political science, geography, history and psychology and English, which comprise lengthy topics that require a lot of understanding as well as memorisation. The way you attempt these papers will play a key role in determining your results. There are not many short or calculation based questions, which means that candidates have to write the correct answers and be precise at the same time. HT Education spoke to teachers across the Capital to find out what students should keep in mind.

For better scores, follow your textbooks and any one question bank. If prepared well, it is a very scoring subject. Human population, settlements, human development index, transport and trade are important topics that must be dealt with carefully. Focus on population growth, theory of demographic transition, adolescent problems, and types of agriculture (India and world). Geographical perspective on selected issues is an easy chapter for preparation and scoring marks.

Classification of industries, quaternary activities, criteria and classification of rural and urban settlements and shipping canals are extremely important. Monotony in preparation of topics can be spaced with learning of maps — world and India. Keep some world (political) and India (political) maps handy for practice — especially the ones given by the CBSE. You must practice the data-based activities and questions given in the chapters in Book II (India). Remember to go through the maps in the textbook to answer map-based questions. Learn the highs and lows in data/ information given in appendix at the back of both the textbooks. Always write one or two examples with the answer. Difficult topics may be prepared in short/point format. While attempting the paper, try to follow the serial order of question paper. Question numbers should be clearly and correctly indicated in the left margin. Do not mix them with answers. Keep a pencil handy to quickly highlight/underline key words, terms and important points.

Maintain an even speed throughout. You can roughly give 12-15 minutes each for answering five-mark questions, five to six minutes each for answering three-mark questions, two to three minutes each for answering one-mark questions, five to six minutes for map work and 10-15 minutes for revising the paper. Try doing the map questions first. You must label and number the map feature as per the questions on the map. The key/ index should be made on the map only.

Mala Aggarwal, GD Goenka Public School, Vasant Kunj

Political science
Being a political science student, your knowledge of the world and Indian politics should be updated. Regular reading of newspapers will help when you have to answer questions that need examples from current politics. Go through your NCERT textbooks thoroughly before you switch over to reference books. The possibility of questions being asked from inset boxes (political/general cartoons) cannot be ruled out so take a look at these too when revising. Since we have elections in five states of India, questions based on various political parties — their ideologies, governments, etc can be expected. Popular movements is another important topic which refers to the Lokpal Bill. There may be questions on US hegemony with reference to what happened in Libya recently. India’s relations with China and the US are other important topics. Practise at least three model test papers from reference books to time your answers properly. Try to check these test papers yourself before you get them checked by your teacher. Always attempt the six-mark questions first so that you devote maximum time to these followed by four, two and one-mark questions. Being a subjective paper, always try and attempt the paper in points with proper headings and subheadings.

Half-mark questions should be attempted wisely, so think before writing. As these have to be very precise and accurate, avoid any overwriting or cutting in one word/ one-sentence answers. Questions on debatable topics should be supported with examples with your personal comments on the topic — do not forget to write both ‘for’ and ‘against’ the notion as no debate is complete without both. Try to attempt all questions. Even if your knowledge about a particular topic is incomplete/inadequate, try to write whatever you know about the topic and relate it to the question asked. General information provided by you would fetch you some marks. Questions with more than one part should be rechecked so that all parts of a particular question are attempted together and no part of the question goes unanswered.

Gurpreet Kaur, Manav Sthali School, Rajendra Nagar

Attempt the paper according to the serial numbers given in the question paper. While answering, always make it a point to leave a line between parts of the same question. If no space is left, the teacher could miss marking it. Don’t misspell easy words like ‘beautiful,’ ‘careful’, ‘hopeful’ with double ‘l’ as all these words carry single ‘l’. The answers pertaining to notices, advertisements, invitations etc. should always be written in a blurb, i.e. a box. In comprehension passages, never write answers in incomplete sentences or beginning with ‘because.’ All the answers should be precise and within the word limit. In note making, read the passage carefully and just formulate the points and sub-headings in your mind. The numbers of subheadings are not to be written in the margin provided for writing question numbers. Write them on the page at the right place. For advertisements, the category of the advertisement like ‘lost and found’, ‘vehicles’, ‘property’, ‘matrimonial’ etc should be mentioned outside the box. In letters, write everything on the left side.

The first paragraphs should be topical, expanding the subject. The second paragraph should discuss the problem dealt with and the third one should have solutions. The fourth one must be conclusive. Date must be written in this format: March 2, 2006. The first paragraph of a newspaper/ magazine report must answer how, when where, why, what and who. Paragraph one should explain the topic, two and three the main event and last, the investigations or findings.

Firoz B Ahmed, Modern School, Barakhamba Road

The psychology paper is divided into five sections — A, B, C, D, E carrying 10, 12, 12, 24, 12 marks, respectively. Section A consists of learning checks (one mark) which are basically objective-type questions. These include fill in the blanks, MCQs, and true and false statements. Some of these are application based. Section B consists of very short answers (two marks), which should be very precise and to-the-point.

Section C consists of short answers (three marks). You can write point-wise or in paragraphs. Section D consists of long answers (four marks). Do not repeat your statements written in the answer in different words. Use the right terminology. Section E consists of very long answers (six marks). Try to explain and give examples to support your answer in detail. The unit on intelligence and aptitude carries nine marks, unit two on self and personality carries 10 marks, unit four on psychological disorders carries 10 marks and unit six on attitude and social cognition carries eight marks. The syllabus consists of nine units. These four units together account for more than 50% of the marks so study them well. Remember to mention the name of the psychologist whenever you are citing research or explaining terms. Use psychological/technical terms followed by the explanation. Do learn the supplementary material available on the CBSE website. It is not included in the textbook but is a part of the syllabus.

Ritu Nagar, Bal Bharati Public School, Noida

Each section will have questions to choose from. Read through the whole list first, and then start with the questions you can answer really well. Mark the ones you are going to answer. Check if you fully understand it. Do you have enough concrete content, ideas evidence and relevant knowledge to answer the questions? Do not attempt a question you do not understand. Choose a few points/arguments on which you can elaborate. Divide your time equally between short-answer questions which carry an equal number of marks. For essay-type questions, select a question, identify the subject of the question, try and fathom what are you being asked to do, what kind of information you need to answer the question, and how will you have to treat it.

Chanda Rawat, Bloom Public School

How I did it
Shrishti Bhatia, scored 90% last year. “Humanities is very demanding as you need high levels of concentration. I used to study for 4-6 hours everyday which included my assignments and geography practicals, besides my board exam preperation. I solved numericals which made me confident in economics. I solved sample papers which were of great help.”