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COVID-19 second wave: Students giving board exams face their worst ordeal in 2021

For Indian students giving their Class X and Class XII board examinations in 2021, there is a constant fear of exams being postponed and results being delayed due to the second wave of COVID-19.

April 17, 2021 / 11:11 AM IST

The second wave of COVID-19 has hit India badly. On April 16, the country clocked an all-time high of 217,353 reported coronavirus positive cases. Amidst rising cases and deaths, students giving board exams across various central and state boards are in a fix.

Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has cancelled Class X board exams and postponed Class XII board exams for the year while Council for the Indian School Certificates Examinations (CISCE) has deferred Class XII board exams. For Class X students, CISCE has given an option to either give the exam at a later date or be assessed based on a criterion developed by the exam body.

Meanwhile, multiple state boards have decided to postpone examinations in the wake of rising cases. But none of the boards have given a final examination schedule leading to rising confusion and uncertainty in the minds of students.

Moneycontrol spoke to five students giving their board exams in 2021 to get their perspective on this issue:

Pragnya Sambana, ICSE Class X, Visakhapatnam

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Pragnya Sambana, ICSE Class X, Visakhapatnam Pragnya Sambana, ICSE Class X, Visakhapatnam

I study at Bethany School and my school completed the syllabus at a good pace. Students who prepared well are doing well. But many students did not even attend the online classes. There were offline classes earlier in 2021 for two weeks that helped us cover the academic portion. We are having pre-boards right now through a virtual mode. Initially, the pre-boards were supposed to be offline but considering the rise in cases, a few of our parents spoke to the school management and requested exams to be online.  I have studied a lot and put in a lot of effort and wanted to give the examination instead of just being promoted based on past performance. But the ICSE board has now given two options, to either give exams at a later date or not give it and be promoted based on an assessment. Considering the rise in COVID-19 cases and uncertainty around when the exams will be held, my parents have advised me to not take the offline examination. Let us see what the assessment mechanism will be.

Joshua Thomas, CBSE Class X, Bhopal

Joshua Thomas, CBSE Class X, Bhopal Joshua Thomas, CBSE Class X, Bhopal

For Class X, postponing board examinations is fine because it is primarily for choosing their educations streams. Exams cannot be cancelled for Class XII because then they appear for various entrance examinations. When it comes to Class X, I don’t think it is such a bad decision especially because a lot of students across the country were not privileged enough to have access to online classes. It was very beneficial for students. Now it is the responsibility of CBSE to bring out an objective scoring mechanism so that there is some differentiation of scores of students based on their aptitude and helps good students excel. It wouldn’t be fair to just assess students based on the online exams held earlier. I am planning to take up Science from Class XI and am currently waiting for the board to announce the mechanism on which our final scores will be brought out.

Hemanshi Dilip Parmar, Maharashtra SSC Class X, Mumbai

Hemanshi Dilip Parmar, Maharashtra SSC Class X, Mumbai Hemanshi Dilip Parmar, Maharashtra SSC Class X, Mumbai

Maharashtra state board has postponed the exams but I don’t think the Class X examination should be cancelled. I wanted to be judged based on my performance in the examination and I have worked day and night for it. I want the examinations to be held, albeit at a later date. I understand that offline exams would be tough but the board should find a middle way. I am planning to take up Science in Class XI and have also started preparing for various competitive examinations. Maybe the board should take up a structured mechanism of preparing scores based on our past academic performances so that the good and diligent students don’t lose out.

Kayoze Pastakia*, ICSE Class X, Mumbai

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I have prepared for close to two years for the Class X board examinations. Even my family has been thinking about these examinations for two years. We don’t even know how we will be marked. I am eyeing admission at Jai Hind College in Mumbai. Now I am worried that there will be intense competition to get into the college. I wanted one objective paper for all students so that there is some assessment. My school is not very lenient when it comes to marking. But if there is an online exam, there will be rampant cheating. This is unfair to students like me who are sitting at home and slogging. The 10th standard exam is very important and the board should have just postponed it. We are stuck. But the better option is to wait and watch.

Arunima Bose, West Bengal Board HSC Class XII, Kolkata

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Both my parents had COVID-19 in January 2021 and had prolonged symptoms so I was also busy with household chores for almost 40-45 days. This led to me losing out on several important online classes that were held. The state government is now busy with elections, but what about our future? I was hoping that they would announce some revision in dates but nothing has been told. Officially, my exams are to begin in June and I still feel very under-prepared. It is very stressful especially since I am planning to move to Delhi to pursue a degree in commerce. West Bengal board is anyway known for its tough marking and Delhi University cut-offs are always above 97 percent. It will be a big dampener if I am unable to make the cut. I have enrolled in two coaching classes to ensure that any big gaps in completion of the academic portion is filled. I am hoping for the best.

Marina Selvam, Tamil Nadu HSC Class XII, Salem

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My Class XII board examinations are officially said to begin on May 5. But we still don’t know if it will actually be held. When Tamil Nadu cancelled the Class X exam, they should have at least announced fresh dates for HSC exams. Why does nobody care about us? I am reading that every day 1,100-1,200 people are dying of COVID-19 in India. Aren’t we at risk of contracting the virus if we go to the exam centre? I am planning to pursue medicine after Class XII and will also be appearing for NEET (UG) in August 2021. My worry is that my Class XII board exams could get postponed and will end up clashing with NEET. I hope the exam authorities take our concerns into consideration and ensure that we students don’t end up missing the exam. I don’t have the privilege of wasting one full year. I am from Kuzhithura in Kanyakumari and staying in a hostel and studying here. If they announce the fresh dates quickly, I can at least go back home and prepare properly.

Aabharan Dash, Odisha HSC Class XII, Rourkela

Aabharan Dash, Odisha HSC Class XII, Rourkela Aabharan Dash, Odisha HSC Class XII, Rourkela

I was well prepared for the HSC examinations that were scheduled from May 3 onwards. The Odisha  state government suddenly announced on April 15 that the Class XII exams are postponed. Almost four months (May-August) of 2020 went into buying laptops and web cameras to have online schools. My father had to take a loan from a relative to buy a second-hand laptop for me. I have put in a lot of study hours to prepare for the examinations. Unlike Class X exams which have been cancelled by CBSE and other state boards in India, the HSC exams cannot be cancelled since they decide which college we will get admission into. I am eyeing an IIT computer science engineering degree and also giving the JEE examination in April 2021. Instead of postponing the exams, I would have preferred to give the exam between May 3-15 and get done with it. Now, the anxiety continues.

*Name changed on request
M Saraswathy is a business journalist with 10 years of reporting experience. Based in Mumbai, she covers consumer durables, insurance, education and human resources beat for Moneycontrol.
first published: Apr 17, 2021 11:11 am

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