CBSE Open Book Exams in India: What? Why? How?

CBSE Open Book Exams

Hello parents! How’s the exam season treating you? I know you are already taking good care of your children but don’t forget to take care of yourselves too. Don’t get too stressed, okay? Many of you must have heard about CBSE’s pilot program; Open Book Exams for classes 9 to 12. When I first read about it in a news article, I was so confused. Open book exams were a new concept to me, they still are to an extent! So, I did some research and learned more about it. Today, I want to share my learnings with you.

What are Open Book Exams?

Open book exams are assessments where students can bring in their books and notes to refer to during the test. Sounds crazy, right? They are saying it’s an innovative approach to testing but all I could think of was, “Now kids can freely and openly use their ‘chits’!” Haha, IYKYK! I’m not sure if those things are still in trend.

Jokes apart, these exams are not going to be that simple. I’ll explain that later. But first, let’s address the question: Why?

Why Open Book Exams?

Well, it turns out there are a few reasons behind the shift to open book examinations (OBEs). For starters, it’s about moving away from rote memorization and towards a deeper understanding of subjects. By allowing students to bring in their study materials, CBSE wants to encourage them to focus on comprehension, critical thinking and problem-solving skills rather than just regurgitating facts.

When I first heard about the OBEs, I was a little skeptical. I mean, isn’t the whole point of exams to test how much the child has memorized learned? But the more I read about it, the more it started to make sense.

The purpose of open book exams is to assess students’ understanding of concepts, their ability to analyze information and their problem-solving skills. In simple words, these exams are going to challenge the Indian education system.

You may also read: Why We Chose Montessori Over Traditional Schools?

How are these Exams Different?

In open book exams, questions are often designed to be more complex, more realistic and based on real-world situations, requiring students to apply their knowledge to solve problems. Students are expected to demonstrate their ability to locate relevant information, interpret it effectively and apply it to answer the questions.

So, if the student is not aware of the concept to be applied to solve a particular problem, even the books won’t help them out. Sounds scary?

Now let’s see how these exams can benefit students.

Benefits of Open Book Exams

We often complain that schools make our children learn things that are of no use in real life. Now with OBEs, our kids can learn how to apply their knowledge in the real world. These tests will check their understanding of concepts. And, that’s what we want, right?

Not just that, these assessments will take some pressure off our kids. When they know they don’t have to depend on rote learning for exams, they will be less stressed. Instead of cramming facts and figures into their brain, they can focus on understanding the lessons.

What if open book assessments cause more harm than benefits?

Drawbacks of OBEs

I still remember how our exams used to be so tough. We wouldn’t even get a second to look around; we just had to fill sheet after sheet without thinking. Now, with Open Book Exams, students may find it difficult to manage their time. What if the child spends too long searching for answers and runs out of time to complete the exam?

Also, what if students become overly reliant on resources? Some might struggle to think for themselves if they’re constantly looking up answers.

You may also read: Debunking Montessori Myths for Elementary Education!

Additionally, how are schools going to prepare their students to take up OBEs in such a short time? Are our teachers ready to take up this challenge? Or, do we have to wait for long just like we are waiting for full implementation of National Education Policy (NEP) in schools? Let’s see how CBSE is going to move forward with this new technique and how schools take up the challenge.

Main points of CBSE’s Pilot Program

  • As of now, OBEs are under trial.
  • The trial testing has been planned for November and December 2024.
  • Initially, OBEs will be conducted only for Grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 in selected schools.
  • Students in classes 9 and 10 will take OBEs in Science, Math and English.
  • While students in classes 11 and 12 will take OBEs in Biology, Math and English.
  • For now, OBEs are not planned for board exams.

Looks like, CBSE still has a long way to go. But, if you ask me, I really appreciate all the new changes being introduced to transform our education system and make it better for our children. Implementing such policies is not easy, considering how huge and complicated our education system is. But the good thing is we are making progress. It may take many years to see the changes but at least we know it’s moving in the right direction.

This post is a Top Blog at Blogchatter

Top post on Blogchatter

What are your thoughts on Open Book Exams in India? Let’s have a discussion in comments below.

This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla in collaboration with Mads’ Cookhouse.
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    Priya Singh March 13, 2024 at 10:53 pm - Reply

    Its a thoughtful exploration of a significant shift.

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      Neha Sharma March 15, 2024 at 10:06 am - Reply

      Thank you, Priya.

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    Kaveri Chhetri March 14, 2024 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    I can’t wait for this to happen!!!… n I will be the happiest if it is implemented… cuz honestly I hate the rote system of education. I was a Zoology Honours student and the amount of pages we had to mug up is not even funny.
    Like you, I too had my apprehensions n doubts regarding OBE and I hadn’t fully understood the concept, but your post has cleared them all. thank you for this informative blog Neha.

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      Neha Sharma March 15, 2024 at 10:06 am - Reply

      Thanks Kaveri for taking the time to read and engage with the content! I can totally feel you coming from a science background myself. And I feel it’s the dilemma of students from all the streams where emphasis is given to rote learning rather than understanding of concepts. I’m so glad that this blog post helped clarify your doubts about OBEs. Here’s to hoping for positive changes in our education system and to a brighter future for our kids.

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    Cindy D'Silva March 15, 2024 at 9:47 am - Reply

    Good to know this. Our children won’t have to memorize like parrots. Some of us did that and now we barely remember anything we studied in school. Another thing that should change is the option of learning French. I think Spanish would be a better language to learn. What do you think?

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      Neha Sharma March 15, 2024 at 10:52 am - Reply

      I really have no idea which additional languages are being taught in schools, as my son goes to a Montessori & they primarily focus on Hindi, English & Kannada. Nowadays, schools are in fierce competition and want kids to excel in everything, so there’s a lot of pressure. I think students should have the option to learn French or Spanish or any other foreign language, depending on where they plan to pursue their degrees. For example, Spanish would be beneficial for those aiming for American universities, while French or German would be useful for those interested in European institutions. I learned Spanish for 3 months during my post graduation & I found it quite easy and interesting. Some of my friends argue that French is easier than Spanish. Since I’ve no idea about French, can’t really say anything. The main point is that schools should allow students to choose their languages rather than imposing them.

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      Raghav March 16, 2024 at 3:55 pm - Reply

      this makes total sense now. i jumped on the “kids these days have it easy” bandwagon when i read the headline. it’s much better after i read this post.

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    Ambica Gulati March 17, 2024 at 10:59 am - Reply

    I am glad, I got over with all this in the 1980s! However, I hope this new system proves beneficial for students now. But I am wondering, how much more time will they need to finish the paper, as going back and forth would require more attention and time.

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    Harjeet Kaur March 17, 2024 at 11:54 pm - Reply

    Good to see this change in my lifetime. I always believe that exams and our Indian rote way of education is a no-brainer. Happy for the new gen who will get to sit In these open-book exams.

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    Zenobia Merchant March 18, 2024 at 11:58 am - Reply

    Education in India is surely evolving and with OBE it is indeed a step further from the traditional rote method of learning concepts. I am absolutely for it and looking forward to the changes it brings in the performance and attitude of the children. Fingers crossed.

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    Pamela Mukherjee March 18, 2024 at 2:28 pm - Reply

    I personally don’t believe in open book exams or any traditional exam process. For me, exams should be a process of learning and implementation; they should be more practical and on an on an assessment basis.

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    Manali March 18, 2024 at 9:53 pm - Reply

    OBEs have been around in schools and colleges outside India for a while now. I’m glad the Indian education system is moving towards global standards and trying to bring about a positive change by moving away from rote learning. I’ve myself given an OBE once and let me tell you it’s not an easy feat. Time-management is the biggest hurdle in such exams and of course the student would need proper training and understanding of it all. As you said, there’s still a long way to go, but each big change begins with a small step, right?

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    Neeta Kadam March 19, 2024 at 7:19 am - Reply

    Open book exam is good initiative for students. I hate rote learning. kids will be happy on this news. it’s good thing slowly our Indian education system is evolving.

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    kanchan bisht March 19, 2024 at 12:29 pm - Reply

    Open book examination offers a valuable alternative to traditional exams. and it promotes deeper understanding, cand critical thinking. however, its is essential to design these assesments thoughtfully.

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    Preeti Chauhan March 19, 2024 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    While I have always preferred the concept of an open book exam, I am afraid our teaching style still has been more rote oriented and that could cause many students to struggle with this concept. All in all, I do welcome it. Your post has shed light on the whole concept and would act as a guide for many who are not familiar with it.

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    Anjali Tripathi March 19, 2024 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    Its definitely a new concept for many of us, and your insights helped clarify things. However it is important to remember that open book exams are not awalk in the park. Time manis important, as seen in their erlier introduction in UP boards (if I am not wrong) where some students struggled to finsih the paper on time. despite the challenges, its exciting to see innovation in education and i am curious to see how this new approach unfolds. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

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    Felicia March 19, 2024 at 8:33 pm - Reply

    The education system is continuously changing and coming up with new rules. As a teacher, I have watched a few students struggle with learning lessons. The old system was rote memorization-based. However, the new methods are all based on student-centric and very diverse. Open-book exams are really good. When I conduct any open book exams, I help students read through the chapter, have a class discussion, and help them understand concepts so that when they take the exam, they can easily understand and answer the questions asked.

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    Samata March 20, 2024 at 12:34 am - Reply

    OBE is going to be a big relief for the students and parents as well. I always prefer smart learning. In our time this concept was not there but I always used to prefer studying for less hours but solid studying with the concepts right in mind than mugging things. Honestly speaking some of the teachers of our times became a teacher just with their extreme talent of mugging the subject with no practical approach in the studies. They qualified as teacher because they mugged well to qualify in the exams and sadly have no practical approach in their thought process. But you will find more level of intelligence than the one we used to have, all this because of the changes that took place in the passage of time in the education system. I strongly believe and support in OBE approach as this will add logic in the studies of the students with practical approach on what they learned. Time management will definately be a matter of concern but here also smart management and logical learning i believe will help in time management in smart way. I support OBE.

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    sadvik kylash March 20, 2024 at 5:06 am - Reply

    I was equally confused when I heard this term. But your post provided an in-depth of it including the backdraws. It is a good approach provided students use it wisely

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    Janaki March 20, 2024 at 8:58 am - Reply

    Very useful information, Neha. I do hope the board has done proper research and has the necessary resources to conduct the pilot. The teachers must be trained and they in turn must train the students. Will all this happen by Nov 2024? Keeping fingers crossed.

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    sonu chouhan March 20, 2024 at 10:46 am - Reply

    Your post has cleared many doubts which had popped in my mind when I read about it In news …it can be a good option..away from rote learning… traditional learning

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    SwatiMathur March 20, 2024 at 11:34 am - Reply

    To introduce any change it needs to be holistic. Are we equipped to follow this new change if not the initial strategy should be to build that infrature. more than kids adopting this new change it’s the school and teachers who needs to be trained. I am glad the whole education system is transforming for good and I welcome such productive change.

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    Varsh March 20, 2024 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    Although open book exams sound better, I’m not sure how practical their implementation will be. Students will definitely focus on learning a concept than memorizing it, which is better in the long run. Let’s see how long it takes to come into effect.

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    Sivaranjini Anandan March 20, 2024 at 3:18 pm - Reply

    The qualiy of CBSE has drastically come down is what I can say. it is not that I encourage rote memorisation but there are good ways to help the children learn how to solve realtime problems, multiple choice questions, summarisation, appreciation questions, scenario interpretation and so on. I dont have any idea how open book exam will help. Wonderful and insightful post.

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    Ritu Bindra March 20, 2024 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    Anything that does away with rote learning is always welcome. Thanks for sharing more about this. I remember one of my teachers giving this a shot back in school. Her logic was that if you had studied the chapter well, you would know where to find the answer.

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    Sindhu Vinod Narayan March 21, 2024 at 1:40 am - Reply

    thanks for sharing this neha. it cleared a lot of my doubts that cropped up when the plan was announced. your post made it clear

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    Sakshi Varma March 21, 2024 at 8:19 am - Reply

    I was introduced to open book exams during my MBA and I agree that it is a better way to evaluate a student’s understanding of the concepts, their ability to analyse and present their thoughts rather that examining their ability to memorize.

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    Ishieta March 21, 2024 at 9:30 pm - Reply

    I think this will be very interesting – and I want to see how this develops. I wonder whether this will help or take away from the efforts that children are putting in to learn. I support not learning by rote, but rather developing an understanding of a subject instead.

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    Shifali March 22, 2024 at 11:43 am - Reply

    this is an innovative approach if the boards are planning to execute. But to evaluate the memorization of concepts and how they understood from them is also essential.

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    Noor Anand Chawla April 24, 2024 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    During my LL.M in London, I had to give one open exam out of five papers. Believe me, it was more stressful because it was so unfamiliar. You still have to study beforehand and utilise your time in analysis instead of “looking for answers”!

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