The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) conducted a proficiency test for students of class X to test their aptitude, irrespective of their choice on taking the board examination.

The proficiency tests, which some students took a few days ago, covered different subjects. The CBSE is said to have developed it along with institutions such as the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education and the Indian Council of Social Science Research. According to heads of several schools affiliated to the CBSE, only a small percentage of their class X students took the test. At Sivaswami Kalalaya Senior Secondary School, for instance, only one-third of the students opted to take the proficiency test. SBOA Senior Secondary School had about half the total strength of class X students taking the examination. School heads said that more students were likely to take the examination next year, as they would have a better idea about what to expect. In a meeting with school heads in the city a few months ago, CBSE chairman Vineet Joshi had said the proficiency test would help students know where they stood in comparison to their peers.

Some parents think the experience is useful. S.Radhika, mother of a class X student going to a CBSE school in Adyar, said: “Almost all the examinations at school level test children's memory, but invariably all important competitive examinations in higher education are aptitude tests. I think this will be a good experience for students.

Aptitude tests have distinct objectives, says S. Balasubramanian, Director, T.I.M.E, Chennai Centre, an institute that specialises in training B-school aspirants for the Common Aptitude Test (CAT).

“An aptitude test seeks to test a students' ability to apply knowledge. It may have questions in mathematics or English, but essentially, the aim is to check the student's potential for problem-solving and reasoning,” he said.

Given a situation, is there potential for making connections using current knowledge and coming up with solutions? – That is the real test, Mr. Balasubramanian emphasises.

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