CBSE plans two maths papers: One easy and the other tough

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The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is examining a proposal to introduce two versions of the mathematics question paper so that students who aren’t keen to take up the subject in higher studies don’t have to sit for the tougher edition of the test.

The board has received representations to that effect from several schools and principals across the country, people familiar with the development said on condition of anonymity. The proposal is to introduce two versions of the maths paper — one difficult and one relatively easy — for classes 9, 10, 11 and 12.

The rationale is that students who don’t intend to pursue the study of mathematics would be able to avoid the tag that they aren’t good at the subject if they score low marks in it at the high-school level.


“The subject expert committee is examining the proposal and is working out how the two different levels could be created. This would not only mean a different paper for the students, but a different curriculum,” one of the people cited above said on condition of anonymity.

For instance, students who want to take up engineering and sit for the Join Entrance Examination (JEE) Main and Advanced will be able to study mathematics at the higher level. Those who aspire to study medicine and sit for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) will have the choice of studying the subject at the easier level.

A second official, also requesting anonymity, noted that students aspiring to study economics or medicine don’t need to study higher level mathematics at the high school level, but at present have no option. “Sometimes, this leads to their overall performance coming down. At least this would give students a choice,” this person said.

Once the proposal is approved by the CBSE internally, it will be shared with the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) which is the body responsible for framing school curriculum.


Teachers welcomed the move. “It is an appreciable step. I think there can be uniformity till Class 10 but for Class 11 and 12, the mathematics utility for different streams is different,” said Manisha Paul, a mathematics teacher at the Mathura Road branch of Delhi Public School.

A number of school boards overseas follow this practice. For instance, the Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGSCE) has a core curriculum in each subject which is generally within the ability range of a large majority of the students. It also offers an extended curriculum that is designed for students who are more academically able. International Baccalaureate (IB) also provides this flexibility.

To ensure that universities accept the two different levels of mathematics being offered at the high school level, the proposal will also need to be approved by the University Grants Commission (UGC).

Explaining the proposal, a third person familiar with the development said, the curriculum would be designed in such a manner that students opting for higher mathematics will have to study, say calculus, but those opting for the easier level will not have to.


The Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry also formed a panel earlier this year to suggest measures to combat a maths phobia among students after a national survey of state-run schools revealed a “fear complex” among students on the subject.

The panel was formed by the HRD minister Prakash Javadekar, who had earlier said: “One thing has come up in the National Assessment Survey 2017 that students have fear complex about maths. We have formed a committee under Gujarat education minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama to see how to remove that fear complex so that the students see it as a friendly subject.”

The survey also pointed out that learning levels for mathematics were progressively lower among government school students as they progressed from one class to another.

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