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Special Content

volume-43, 26 January - 1 February, 2019

What to Do in the Last Month before the Board Exams

Rruchi Shrimalli

The CBSE Board Exams for Class 12 are due to start on February 15, 2019 while the ISC board exams for Class 12 students will start on February 4, 2019. The examinations of various other boards will also start round this time. With the board exams so near, it is time to get the grip of the situation and put in every ounce of effort to boost your board exam results. Here is some advice to keep you sane and focused during this period:

Knowledge is Power

It is important to keep abreast of the changes in the board exam pattern and tweak your preparation strategy accordingly. Here are some of the news highlights for those who are all set to sit for their board exams this year:

  • CBSE has changed the patterns of the Section A (Reading section) of its English-Core exam question paper.
  • Till 2018, the section used to have three passages:
  • Two passages of 1100-1200 words each, and
  • One passage of 400-500 words.
  • The type of questions based on these passages included:
  • 6 MCQs for 1 mark each,
  • 16 Very Short Answer type questions (including 1 on Vocabulary) for 1 mark each,
  • 1 Short Answer type question for 3 marks, and
  • 1 Long Answer type question for 5 marks.
  • In 2019 Class 12 board exam, the CBSE question paper will only have two passages:
  • Passage 1 of 800-900 words, and
  • Passage 2 of 400-500 words.
  • The type of questions asked on the basis of Passage 1 will include:
  • 5 MCQs for 1 mark each,
  • 9 Very Short Answer type questions (including 3 on Vocabulary) for 1 mark each, and
  • 3 Short Answer type questions for 3 marks each.
  • The type of questions asked on the basis of Passage 2 will include 2 Long Answer type questions for 5 marks each.

Hence, the total number of questions asked in Section A will be reduced from 24 to 19. The total marks of the section will remain 30 though.

One can check the sample question paper (and its marking scheme) for the 2019 English Core Exam on the CBSE website at http://cbseacademic.nic.in/web_ material/Notifications/2018/30_MS_Eng_Core.pdf

The CBSE English Core exam for Class 12 is scheduled to be held on March 2, 2019.

  • CBSE will allow Computer Science students to attempt questions on Python as a programming language.
  • Earlier, CBSE had replaced Python with C++ as the programming language in the Class 11 and 12 Computer Science syllabus. Yet, many schools ignored the directive and continued teaching Python to the students. Hence, for this year, CBSE question paper for Computer Science will include questions on both C++ and Python. Students can attempt questions on any one programming language.
  • The students will have to indicate their choice of programming language on the title page of the question paper - and do the questions on it.
  • CBSE to offer more choices in both Class 10 and Class 12 board exams this year.
  • Till 2018, the CBSE question papers only allowed you to choose which questions to answer in the Long Answer type questions. From 2019, you will be able to choose questions in both Short Answer and Long Answer type questions for some of the subjects.
  • It is said that the number of choices will be increased by as much as 33% in all the sections of the question paper and for each type of questions it will include. The subjects which will have more choices this year include:

For Class X:

1.       Hindi


4. Social


7. Elements of

Book Keeping     

                            And Accountancy                    

10. Carnatic Music



13. Hindustani

13. Hindustani

      ssion Instru-






2.       Hindi           



5. Mathematics

  8. Carnatic 

Music Vocal       


                          Music Vocal

       14. Home





3.       Science        


6. Elements

Of Business


9. Carnatic 

Music Melodic                                                Instrumental


                     12. Hindustani

Music Melodic 

Music Melodic 


15. Sanskrit



For Class XII:

  1. Economics            9. Carnatic                    17. Dance-               25. Physics                  33. Psychology

                                         Music (Per. Ins.          Kathak           


  1. Physical                10. Hindustani              18. Dance-               26. Chemistry             34. Sociology

Education                          Music Vocal               Bharatnatyam                          

  1. Business              11. Hindustani              19. Dance-             27. Informatics        35. Entrepren-

Studies                                Music Melodic          Kuchipudi                  Practices-Old             eurship


  1. Account-               12. Hindustani                   20. Dance-          28. Legal Studies     36. Biology

ancy                                     Percussion                        Odissi


  1. English                13. Painting                         21. Dance-              29. Computer       37. Biotechn-

Core                                                                            Manipuri                Science-Old                 ology           

  1. Hindi                   14. Graphics                       22. Dance-              30. History           38. Sanskrit

Elective                                                                    Kathakali                         Elective

  1. Carnatic              15. Sculpture                        23. Hindi Core         31. Political           39. Sanskrit

Music Vocal                                                                                                  Science                Core

  1. Carnatic             16. Applied/                         24. Mathematics         32. Geography      40. Home

Music                               Commercial Art                                                                                                                                     Science



  • BSE Odisha is introducing changes in its HSC (High School Certificate) Exam 2019

Students who are going to sit for the high school exam (or Class 10 exam) from the Odisha state board need to know about the changes that have been introduced this year. Now, the students have to obtain at least 15 marks in the subjective and objective papers separately to pass the exams.

This year, the Odisha state board has also introduced changes in the objective part of the question papers. Instead of three Objective set of questions, the paper will now have four parallel set of questions.

In the Social Science and General Science papers, the marking scheme has also been changed from 10 and 5 marks pattern to the 7 and 8 marks marking pattern.

  • CISCE will introduce Compartmental Exams for both ISC and ICSE students this year.

In a move to make its board exams more student-friendly, the CISCE has announced that it will allow both Class 10 and Class 12 students who fail their exams to take one compartmental exam a year and try to redeem their status. The compartmental exams will be held in July 2019.

From 2019 onwards, the CISCE will also make all the exam-related process online. It means that you can find your admission cards, customised timetables online. The mark sheets for board exam students from this year will not only include subject-wise marks but also paper-wise marks for English, Science, History, Geography and Civics.

Divide Your Preparation Period into Three Phases

  1. In the First Phase, focus on the Core Content.

When you have less than a month in hand to prepare for your exams, the only strategy that works is to focus on the core content for the first few days. This is what you need to learn to pass the exams. For example, in Physics, there are theorems you need to prove. If you understand them and learn to apply them, you will be able to pass the exam.

You can also solve the last years' papers and the sample papers - and analyse them. Read through at least 3-5 solved previous year question papers and model papers and see what type of questions have been asked. You may also want to make a note of which topics have been asked most often.

You may also seek help from your teachers and friends who study all around the year and find the important topics for each subject you have to study. Topics that can fetch you more marks need to be studied first.

  1. In the Second Phase, solve as many questions as you can.

Once you have read the major portions of your board exam syllabus, solve the questions related to the topics you consider most important. Also solve previous years' question papers. It will help you identify topics which you need to re-visit and the topics which you are good and can skip for now.

Solving the question papers give you two-fold benefits. On one hand, it helps you with your revision as you try and recall what you have learned during the exam; and on the other hand, it gives you confidence that you will at least be able to do some questions on the big day.

Once you know which topics you are weak in, revise them once more and re-do the question paper. In the end, compare your answers with the ones given in the given solutions. You will find many websites that offer step-by-step solution to the previous years' question papers of the board exams. These solutions may help you find some tips and tricks that you can use on the actual day of the exam. Once you read about these tips, try and use them in the next paper you solve, so that you can remember them when you need them.

  1. In the Third Phase, revise in the first-half part and study for the first two exams in the second-half part.

As you draw closer to your board exams, it is time for the power play. For the first half of the third phase, revise all that you've covered in the first two phases. Go through the theorems, formulas, grammatical rules and the main points of the chapters. Many sites offer free revision notes and mind maps that you can use at this time.

In the second half of the third phase, focus on the first and second exams. Revise everything and go through the solved examples once more. During this phase, devote half the day to the first exam and then devote the other half of the day to the second exam.

Luckily, board exams offer you one or two-day breaks between any two exams. Check your exam schedule - and prepare for those exams first that are falling on consecutive days or have less in-between days.

  • Do not think too much. Just do what you can do. This is not the time to let the stress debilitate your preparation process.

How to remember what you learn?

Most students keep reading and re-reading books and revision notes. However, scientific studies prove that this is not the best method to remember something.

When you read a thing for the first time, you glean a major portion of it and understand most of its points. However, when you read it for the second time, you tend to study it less deeply as you think you reason that you already know what is there. It means that though you are reading it, you are not gaining much from it. There are still gaps in your learning but your mind veils those gaps for you and you fail to gain much from the process.

Hundreds of years ago, Aristotle had shared how to strengthen your memory. He said that when we recall something repeatedly, we remember it more. So, instead of reading, retrieving the information you already have is more important when it comes to boosting your performance in the exams.

Keeping this in mind, solving questions at the end of the exam, solving sample papers, using flash cards, taking quiz, and discussing a topic with your peers are some of the best ways to learn the things that need to be memorised.

Once you take a test or solve a question, find the answers in the study material you have. Finding the answers will help you focus on the relevant portion of the text. This will help you cement the information you have and you will never forget it again.

How to focus for longer number of hours?

Many students find it difficult to focus for a stretch of time. They sit with the books but fail to learn as their mind goes blank for a while. Here are some tips to help you study for a longer duration without losing your concentration:

  • If there are things on your study table which you do not need at the time, remove them immediately. Mobile phones, wires, games, books that are not related to what you are studying - all vie for your attention and cause distraction. So, de-clutter your study desk and organise your study room to be able to concentrate on your studies better.
  • Coffee (or any form of caffeine) raises your alertness for some time but then, your concentration comes crashing down in such a manner that it becomes impossible to sit down to study again. Foods with high glycemic index (GI) or more carbohydrates make you feel full but they can easily put you to sleep. Such foods include white rice, white bread, potatoes, pizza, burger, candies, cookies, cakes and cold drinks. If you want to study for longer hours, you need to avoid them.
  • On the other hand, foods with more proteins and fibers and lower GI levels keep you energetic and alert for a longer duration of time. These include fruits, nuts, low-skimmed milk and whole grain foods like muesli and oats. Since these foods make you feel hungrier early, it is better to take small meals every two to three hours.
  • Take a yellow-coloured chart and write on it, why you need to study. It might be your career goals, the college you want to get into, make your parents and family proud of you, or perhaps, marry a boy or girl you like. It can be anything that can keep you motivated. Yellow is the colour of happiness. Put this chart up in front of your study desk and whenever you feel dull, look at the reason why you need to study. This will fill you up with a new sense of energy and vigour.


Rruchi Shrimalli is a career counselor e-mail: rruchishrimalli@gmail.com.