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CBSE Introduces Open-Book Exams for Classes 9 to 12: Pilot Run Scheduled for November

February 23, 2024
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The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is set to revolutionise its assessment system with the proposed introduction of Open Book Examinations (OBE) for students in Classes 9 to 12. This bold move, aligned with the new National Curriculum Framework, marks a significant shift from traditional closed-book exams and aims to assess students' critical thinking, application, and problem-solving skills.

CBSE Open-Book Exams: Classes 9-12, Pilot in November

Pilot Run in November:

The CBSE plans to conduct a pilot run of OBE in November 2024 in select schools across various regions. This initial phase will focus on subjects like English, Mathematics, Science (Classes 9-10), and English, Mathematics, Biology (Classes 11-12). The pilot aims to gauge the completion time for exams, suitability of the format, and feedback from students, teachers, and parents.

A Pilot Program and Insights from Delhi University's Experience

The proposed pilot, scheduled for November-December this year, aims to evaluate higher-order thinking skills. Unlike traditional closed-book exams, open-book assessments allow students to access their notes, textbooks, and other study materials during the exam. This shift in format aims to encourage critical thinking, problem-solving, and the application of knowledge rather than simply recalling memorized facts. Based on the pilot's outcomes, CBSE will decide whether to adopt this assessment format across all its schools for Classes 9 to 12.

The CBSE is actively seeking guidance from Delhi University (DU), which successfully implemented open-book exams in 2020, amid the Covid pandemic with some opposition. The experience led to legal challenges, particularly concerning potential discrimination against students lacking internet access or adequate infrastructure.

Previously, CBSE experimented with an Open Text Based Assessment (OTBA) format for year-end exams of Classes 9 and 11 from 2014-15 to 2016-17, but it was discontinued due to negative feedback from stakeholders.

Delving into the experience of Delhi University, Ajay Arora, OSD Examination at DU, shared that OBE assessments were conducted from August 2020 to March 2022. Despite the university fully resuming physical exams in January 2022, the last round of OBE was offered as an option for students who joined in November 2021.

Emphasising Quality Textbooks and Teacher Training for Successful Transition

In considering the introduction of OBE for CBSE schools, the curriculum committee emphasized the importance of developing high-quality textbooks to aid students in comprehending and accepting this new assessment method. Additionally, some committee members suggested having teachers undergo open-book exams first to grasp the concept, enabling them to create OBE materials of comparable quality to those used in the Advanced Placement examination, a benchmark for college entrance in the United States.