CBSE may conduct trials for open book exam but no plans to introduce it for board exams

Ifrah Mufti

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has proposed a pilot run of open-book tests for Classes IX to XII in subjects like English, Science, Mathematics and Biology in line with the National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCF-SE), stated a report in The New Indian Express.

The board is considering trials of the Open Book Examination (OBE) in select schools for Classes IX to XII this year. However the officials on Thursday, February 22, informed that there is no such plan to adopt the OBE format in board examinations.

The decision was taken in the Governing Body Meeting held in 2023 and the trials will be conducted soon, CBSE officials shared.

"These tests would undergo a pilot phase in schools to evaluate various aspects such as completion time, suitability for formative and summative assessment and stakeholders' perceptions. The proposed timeline included the design, development and review of Open Book Tests by June 2024 followed by the pilot testing of the materials in schools in November-December 2024," added an official.

Under Open Book Exams, students are allowed to access textbooks and other relevant resources to answer the questions in the test. These tests are usually composed of conceptual and analytical questions that urge students to read multiple texts, interpret the text, and apply the concept.

Looking back
In last year's meeting, the Director (Academic Assessment) had outlined CBSE's plan to map content aligned with competencies delineated in the NCFFSE - 2023, focusing notably on higher-order thinking skills, application, analysis, critical and creative thinking and problem-solving. It would comprise visual aids, diverging from curriculum-linked case-based questions to explore content beyond the syllabus. Pilot schools would lead this initiative.

However, she acknowledged that challenges persist in developing high-quality textual materials, ensuring student understanding and acceptance of this new assessment method.

Meanwhile, Delhi University adopted the online OBE format for examinations amid the COVID-19 pandemic between 2020 and 2021. However, it resumed the normal pen-and-paper format from 2022.

Professor Jyoti Sharma from DU reiterated the University of Delhi's experience and raised questions about CBSE's strategy for training teachers to endorse open-book assessments among students. She had stressed the importance of CBSE's preparedness to confront unprecedented challenges that might arise during this endeavour. She had even sought clarification regarding the type of content CBSE plans to develop for this test.

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