MUMBAI The pass percentage of Class 10 of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), the results for which were announced on Tuesday, for Chennai region that includes Maharashtra dropped to 97.37% from last year’s 99.62%.School principals blamed the change in the exam system for the dip. Until last year, students had a choice between board exams and school-based exams. Last year, the authority scrapped school-based exams, forcing all students to opt for board exams. To make matters worse, the board changed the examination pattern from a two-term test to a single annual test.“This was a trial-and-error year for us, considering the new exam pattern. While the papers were largely on easy, the constant chatter of having to study the entire syllabus impacted the students,” said Jyoti Nair, principal, New Horizons Scholars School, Thane.Last year, the board also stopped the continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) and came up with a new scheme for internal tests. The proportion of marks allotted to internal examination was reduced from 25 on 100 to 20, with five marks allotted for taking notes and five for subject-enrichment activities such as practical tests. “Our students prefer practical activities to theory,” said Seema Maindiratta, principal, DAV School, Kharghar.For the sixth year in a row, the national overall pass percentage, too, dropped.SCORING 99%While not a single student from the city or state made it to the national top four ranks, two students managed to score 495 out of 500. Akhilesh Narayan, 15, a student of Nerul’s Delhi Public School, and Rashi Shah, 16, from The Somaiya School in Vidyavihar, said regular studies and revision helped them score 99%. “I maintained a five-hour study schedule every day since the start of the academic year. I revised regularly before the exam,” said Rashi.Most schools ensured students attempted a series of mock tests to prepare them better. “While I worked hard through the year, in the last one month, my entire focus was on revision,” said Akhilesh.HIT BY LANGUAGESMost schools said languages brought down the score of their students. “Many of our students scored well in Sanskrit, but Hindi was a little disappointing,” said Deepshikha Srivastava, principal of Rajhans Vidyalaya, Andheri.Principals feel maths and science boosted the scores. “Strangely, 40% of our students scored more than 90 in mathematics, but a decent number of students scored less than 40 in the subject. There isn’t one uniform trend,” said Ganesh Parameswaran, principal of Bal Bharti Public School, Navi Mumbai.CHANGE IN RULEIn a move that will help students who will write their exams in March, the CBSE has relaxed the mandatory separate pass marks for them. In a circular issued to all CBSE-affiliated schools across the country, the board said the students need to score 33% marks overall, and not 33% each in board and internal exams. “This is a big relief,” said Nair.