Nothing can be more valuable than a collection of examination question papers from the past -- this belief seems to be entrenched in the minds of students preparing for their board examinations. With hardly two months left for the public examinations, accessing such papers easily tops the ‘to-do’ lists of students.

The practice has its advantages, say teachers and school heads. According to V.M. Kalavalli, headmistress, Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Ashok Nagar, students who attempt to solve past years’ question papers learn to manage their time better.

“They will learn things like how to distribute the available time for different sections, which units to expect more questions from and how much time to spend on each question,” she adds. The school has several years’ question papers filed in its library for reference.

Malathy Srinivasan, Principal, Devi Academy School, Valasarawakkam, also feels older question papers are a good resource for students preparing for board examinations. “Students will get to know what the frequently asked questions are. It is a very good idea to go through previous years’ papers, provided the question paper pattern has not changed.”

On whether the variation in codes was also to be noted, she said: “Yes, but usually the difficulty level is same across codes. The values might differ, or the questions might be given in a different order.”

The State’s Parent Teacher Association has been in the business of publishing guides and question paper banks. In the last few years, the sale of question banks has seen a significant increase, according to PTA members. Ever since the Common Entrance Test for admission to professional colleges was abolished in the State, the numbers have only increased further.

“In the last few years, we sold nearly 50,000 to 60,000 copies of class XII question paper banks for subjects like maths, physics and chemistry. Similarly, the class X matriculation question banks also has thousands of takers every year,” said an office bearer of the PTA.

“Most of the question banks are priced in the range of Rs.30-Rs.60 and have question papers of all years from the time of the last syllabus revision. We engage textbook writers to give us model question papers as well,” he added.

The idea is to help students conquer the fear of examinations, Ms. Kalavalli said. “If the child has solved a few papers, she can go to the examination hall with more confidence and courage. And that is half the battle won.”