Nearly 70, 000 students have registered for the class XII exams, over 1.5 lakh for class X

“I am a little stressed, but confident,” says H. Mubina in a hushed voice, taking a break after reading through her English lesson ‘The Rat Trap'. Something one will hear more often now, as the CBSE Board examinations for class X and class XII students begin on Thursday.

“Good to start an exam with an easy paper. Thank God it is not physics,” says the class XII student of Hindu Senior Secondary School, Triplicane, who took a break watching ‘Doraemon' on Wednesday and is trying hard to resist the Facebook temptation. “I started with the easy chapters in English and have left the tough ones for the morning – it will remain fresh in the mind,” she adds.

While it is examination time for students, it is testing time for parents and schools too. Every student has his or her own strategy to do well in the exam. A total of 69,822 students will take the class XII Boards from the Chennai region comprising Southern and Western States. In class X, 55,352 students have registered for the school-based exam while 96,972 for the Board-based exam. Students are increasingly opting for the Board-based exam either to get a feel of how public examinations are or to shift to a different stream, school heads note. It's a view that many parents also share.

The rigour and tension of class X board is necessary for the students to get them ready to face class XII boards or competitive entrances, say parents. But, students who are all set for the class XII examination feel they might just be luckier for there are chances that from next year, there could be just one national level entrance examination which would also give weightage to their school results.

To give a fair deal to the comments on the question paper and address the grievances of students, CBSE has developed an ‘Observation Schedule' for schools to record and forward their concerns within 24 hours after conduct of the examination, a release on the website said.

While the phone calls have been ringing non-stop at the CBSE's Regional Office in the city with schools clarifying various queries, for some teachers it has been no different. Anxious students were getting some doubts cleared either by calling teachers or friends. Many schools made have been making arrangements to ensure exams are stress-free.

Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, for instance, has been encouraging teachers to have one-to-one contact with students who are in need of help. “After the pre-boards we have been asking teachers to reach out to students, where a teacher is in touch with the student, gives him/her task and offers personal tutoring,” says N.R. Murali, assistant commissioner, KVS, Chennai.

There is a sense of confusion among the class X students because nobody is able to advise them why they should take the examination in their school or in some other centre, but otherwise they seem quite stress-free, says R. Aruna, principal, Sir Siva Swami Kalalaya Senior Secondary School.

Most teachers feel the decision to have English in the beginning has really worked well for students. “With physics, the load used to be a little heavier,” adds Ms. Aruna.

K. Ravi, a teacher, says, how a few years ago, the physics paper with unexpected questions had left many a student in despair.

“There is still anxiety as what the higher order thinking questions - the questions that test the student's understanding of the subject and are mostly out of the book- will be on,” he says.

Most schools conducted stress counselling session for parents, instructing them what to feed their children and how to let them have their regular recreation. “Students also know a world of avenues exists for them, so not everyone is thinking about JEE and AIEEE along with boards,” says N.K. Padma, who teaches English at Kendirya Vidyalaya (II) in Tambaram.

“Earlier, I used to get many calls from students saying that they are stressing out, but now I call them to wish them. And even then, many are out going to temples, churches or are on Facebook. It is a little strange, but it is good that they are relaxing,” she adds.

However, there is not much of a stress that parents, teachers and students talk about. “They have had 14 days' leave for preparation, the model papers are easily available and 15 minutes are provided for reading the paper too. So why should they worry?” asks R. Gitanjali, parent.

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