CBSE has introduced the concept of open book tests for students of class X and XII. It is in fact the Indian version of open book tests, adapted for the country. It is called the Pre-Announced Test (PAT), wherein instead of having an actual open book exam, students will be informed four months in advance about the exam, so that they can prepare for it. This is to test and enhance the analytical abilities of students.
The PAT is the latest in a series of attempts by CBSE to eradicate rote learning from the system. Under this, students will be taught a passage in advance, and analytical questions based on the passage will appear on the day of exam. Questions will not be repeated, leaving no use for guides.
The introduction of PAT is in sync with the previous attempts of CBSE to develop higher order thinking skills (HOTS) in students. Previously, 15 percent of the questions in Board papers had been HOTS questions.
Test patterns such as PAT encourage students to analyse facts and question the obvious. It forces them to dig deeper and read between the lines. Instead of simply answering what, where, who or whom, students will ask how and why about things, people and events.
This concept will necessitate a change in classroom tactics, requiring an active participation of students in the lessons as well as a coherent and comprehensive understanding of subjects and an interdisciplinary approach, thus, bridging the gap between theory and real life. Not to mention that analytical thinking should be applied to each and every aspect of learning and not simply a part of it. This should be just a step to change the whole system of examination which should ideally challenge the students and enhance such life skills.
The downside, however, is that this system will further overburden and stress the students as they already need to work hard thanks to the CCE curriculum, which considers every minute detail of school life for evaluation.
The original intent of open book tests was to apply the theory in books on the practical questions asked in the exam. This required quick thinking, presence of mind and swift assessment within a stipulated time period.
The version introduced by CBSE, however, does not greatly challenge the thinking skills of students. Only time will tell how well this scheme of CBSE has fared for the students of India.