CBSE releases material for open book exam

Oct 2013 Source: Times of India

All formalities for holding the open book exam in schools affiliated to the Central Board Secondary Education (CBSE) have now been completed. On Tuesday, the CBSE released the text and pictorial material from which the question paper for the Open Text Based Assessment (OTBA) will be prepared. TOI had reported about the introduction of this revolutionary open book exam concept in July 2012 itself, and CBSE officially announced it a year later.

OTBA will be conducted only for Std. 9 and 11 as part of the final exams in March. For Std. 9, the OTBA material has been released for all main subjects including English, Hindi, Mathematics, Science and Social Science. For Std 11, the text material is for Geography, Economics and Biology. OTBA will be applicable only to these subjects this year.

As reported by TOI earlier, in OTBA students will be given text material months in advance. Later, during the exam, students will be allowed to refer to it while giving the test. However, the CBSE has ensured that OTBA's format does not dilute the process of conducting an exam.

A few months ago, the Board's chairman Vineet Joshi had written to schools that "OTBA will have questions of higher order thinking skills (HOTS) and some of which may be subjective, creative and open-ended". He added that textual material will be related to chosen concepts taken from the syllabi. The content given to students may be in the form of an article, a case study, a diagram, a concept/mind map, a picture or a cartoon, problem/situation based on the concepts taught to students during second term.

The Board has also reworked the marks distribution to accommodate OTBA scores in the main subject marks itself. The question papers in main subjects at Summative Assessment (SA)-II will be of 90 marks (in English, of 70 marks + 20 marks for assessment of speaking and listening skills) based on prescribed syllabus and question paper design. The question paper in each main subject will have a separate section of 10 marks for OTBA. The OTBA section will comprise text material accompanied by two or three questions based on this text. The questions based on text will be of HOTS requiring students to apply to the situations given in the article/ report/ case study and draw inferences/conclusions from. The questions based on the text will be open-ended, extrapolative, inferential and look at personal response justifying a point of view.

After releasing the content for OTBA on Tuesday evening, CBSE's academic director Sadhana Parashar wrote to schools that the teachers concerned "are expected to read, discuss and analyze" it. She added that the focus of teachers regarding OTBA content must be to understand its objectives and outcomes.

"They (teachers) should assign this text material to their students in groups for further understanding, analysis and discussion. It is reiterated here that the main objective of introducing OTBA is to relieve the students from the burden of mugging up of content and provide opportunities in acquiring skills of information processing, comprehension, analysis and inference. The teachers should guide them, provide feedback and encourage open responses in solving situations. The text also gives some questions as samples. The teachers should develop more such questions which are based on the given text but require answers through application of concepts, further extrapolation, comparison and inference," wrote Parashar. 

Test with a difference

 Some salient features of CBSE's revolutionary concept:

What is in the text material?

  • Text material for each subject is between 12-18 pages
  • It is inclusive of diagrams and illustrations
  • Text material for each subject is divided into two themes
  • Themes are relevant not only to existing syllabi, but also recent events
  • Uttarakhand tragedy is discussed for the theme 'Environment and Development
  • Theme in Mathematics discusses about area and distance through planning of garden layout

How exam will be conducted?

  • OTBA only for Class 9 and 11
  • OTBA will be part of SA- II
  • 10 marks (out of 100) will be for OTBA
  • OTBA question paper will have maximum of three questions
  • Each school will have to prepare its own question paper
  • Text material will be made available to students inside exam hall for reference

 Quote By: Sadhana Parashar | CBSE academic director

"The main objective of introducing OTBA is to relieve the students from the burden of mugging up of content and provide opportunities in acquiring skills of information processing, comprehension, analysis and inference. The teachers should guide them, provide feedback and encourage open responses in solving situations."

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