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What loopholes do the Perfect Board Exams Mask under Their Fame? It’s High Time for a Change!

The board exams results of this year have been especially well, which now is raising questions regarding the cut-off percentages in the students now. The board exam results might have been a bit overwhelming in 2014, but the plethora of perfect scores raises questions about the standard of the different boards in India. Are the boards marking students too liberally? Are the exam patterns predictable or does the problem run deeper?

In Tamil Nadu, the state board syllabus, also known as Samacheer Kalvi in tamil, has the largest number of students with CBSE and ICSE following as compared to other states. CBSE has a sizeable strength until Class 10 in Tamil Nadu. Except for the ICSE Class 10 performance, the pass percentage in all three boards - the state board, CBSE & ICSE - all has risen this year. Also, all these three boards had quite a few students scoring above 95%. For an instance, in the Class 12 state board exams, the number of students scoring full marks in physics shot up from 36 last year to 2, 710 this time.

"A student should be able to understand the concept, apply it practically and be creative in the approach to a problem. So, the syllabus should be framed based on these criteria" said the principal of a school in Chennai. He added "CBSE is a better board as the exams are not restricted to the content in the textbooks". The school which has both Samacheer Kalvi and CBSE sections in syllabus, received more than 2, 000 applications for CBSE for kindergarten admissions in 2014. The state board section received about 1, 000 applications. The principal said, "When I asked a rickshaw puller which board he will choose for his kid, he said CBSE. So, that is the kind of awareness among the people".

Educational consultants say the pattern of the examination, and method of teaching are also a problem. "Many schools in the state skip the Class 11 portions, and force students to study Class 12 subjects. As per CBSE and ICSE, the students have to pay as much attention to Class 11 as to 12", said educational consultant Jayaprakash Gandhi. The experts say the portions covered in class XI are the basics, which are applied in class XII's chapters.

"Now, if the students have not learnt the basics, how will they apply them? That is the reason why many of our students do not fare well in the competitive exams!" Gandhi said.

Another concern is the pattern of the question paper. According to an educational consultant based in Chennai, "In the state board examination, it's enough for the students to memorize the answers, and reproduce them in the papers. In a CBSE or ICSE examination, there is no certainty about the questions. Students are taught the concepts, and have to apply them". He added, "When students enter engineering colleges from a state board school, then their performance declines severly. Last year's Anna University results are proof of it."

Most academicians say Samacheer Kalvi is excellent, but its implementation needs improvement. Jayaprkash Gandhi, an educational consultant said, "There are more students in state board schools, because engineering and medical counselling system provides them an edge over CBSE and ICSE student counyerparts. Very few institutes in the state offer grace marks to CBSE considering it a difficult board".

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