The Union government’s decision to institute a Common University Entrance Test (CUET) for undergraduate admissions in all central universities will not affect the board examination process, said a top Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) official, who also stressed there was no plan to do away with the Class 10 and 12 board exams in the near future.
The Centre last month announced that it will conduct a common entrance test for admission to all undergraduate courses, in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, and made its score a mandatory yardstick for all central universities. Several stakeholders have since raised concerns that the test will make school performance irrelevant, and questioned the point of the CBSE school-leaving examinations.
The National Progressive Schools Conference (NPSC), a consortium of over 400 private schools of Delhi, last month even wrote to the Union education ministry, requesting to give weightage to Class 12 marks in undergraduate admissions along with CUET, and alleged that the CUET “will defeat the purpose of schooling”.
Speaking to HT on Tuesday, CBSE secretary (administration, affiliation & finance) Anurag Tripathi said the common entrance exam will not make any difference to the board’s assessment process. “CBSE will continue conducting board examinations for both classes 10 and 12. There is no plan to do away with these exams. The introduction of CUET will, in fact, increase the concentration of students in schools as they will now have to appear for an entrance exam which will be completely based on the Class 12 syllabus. It will motivate them to work harder than ever,” he said.
When asked if CBSE requested the education ministry to give some weightage to Class 12 scores for undergraduate admissions, Tripathi said, “There are different education boards in the country and not just CBSE. This decision has been taken in the wider interest of students by the higher authorities.”
CBSE is the largest educational board in the country with as many as 26,000 schools presently affiliated with it. Last year, while 1,369,745 students had enrolled in class 12, as many as 2,113,767 passed class 10.
The CUCET was introduced at a time when the cut-offs for admission into undergraduate courses were touching 99-100%. Last year, eight Delhi University (DU) colleges had announced a 100% cut-off for admission to 11 courses. With the introduction of CUET, while central universities like DU will now be able to use class 12 marks only as minimum eligibility criteria, state and private universities may continue using board examination marks for merit-based admissions.
Tripathi said that the board is continuously working to improve its board examination pattern. “We have introduced 33% internal choice in question papers, and started including competency based questions in the papers. Such questions will increase every year by 10-15%. It will help students to do away with rote learning and brush up their analytical skills and critical thinking. They won’t study only to score marks now,” he said.
When asked if CBSE plans to continue the two sets of exams each for classes 10 and 12 in the session 2022-23 as well, Tripathi said, “The two-exam assessment process with at least one exam being conducted in objective type format is one of the recommendations of the NEP 2020. The decision to continue this in 2022-23 as well is still pending.”
CBSE last year introduced a two-exam assessment process for classes 10 and 12. While the first exam was conducted between November and December, 2021 in an objective format, the second subjective format exams will begin in the last week of April. The board has called it a measure to avert the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
UGC chairperson Jagadesh Kumar had earlier told HT that under the CUET, universities will be allowed to fix their minimum qualifying criteria in terms of class 12 marks, as they have been doing all this while. “If the students want to do well in CUET, they will have to acquire knowledge in school…This is not a new concept. For admissions to IITs, we have been considering JEE scores only.” he had said.
Educationist Meeta Sengupta said school performance and board marks will always remain relevant. “...especially in the first few years of CUET as it establishes itself. CUET itself may need calibration, and even may see parent pushback depending upon the outcomes in its first year… it is not wise to ever wholly depend on CUET. In any case, universities abroad and in India may well choose a composite score based on all marks, not just CUET,” she said.
Sudha Acharya, chairperson of NPSC, believes CUET may dilute the importance of school education. “This will have long term repercussions on the quality of education delivered at the school level. While International universities require annual scores of class 11 and predicted scores of 12, unfortunately these scores will stand ineffectual for our Indian universities,” she said.