Improvement exam: Why TN class 12 students want it, and why state says no

Improvement exam: Why TN class 12 students want it, and why state says no

Improvement exam is available in other states and even CBSE board; TN state board stopped it since it disturbed the level playing field with other students

Pradeep (name changed) passed his Class 12 Tamil Nadu board exams recently. He scored 300 marks out of 600 but that is inadequate to get him a computer science seat in college. Due to his low marks, most colleges are denying admission or demanding high fees in the range of Rs 70,000 to Rs 1 lakh per semester.

Then a family friend suggested that he take a break for one year and prepare for improvement exams, in which he can score good marks to secure admission in a college of his choice.

Thousands of students like Pradeep who have passed their class 12 exams this year are unwittingly advised by their families and acquaintances to prepare for improvement exams. Their intention may be good but the problem is that improvement exams — which are taken a month after the Class 12 results are released — were abolished under the state board in Tamil Nadu way back in 2006.

Such exams are available in other states and even the CBSE has a similar one. This has led parents and students in Tamil Nadu to increasingly demand that the state board bring the system back. However, the Tamil Nadu state board stopped conducting improvement exams for very specific reasons, and is therefore unlikely to reconsider the decision.

Why improvement exams were abolished

Improvement exams were stopped in 2006 by the then DMK government following allegations that medical and engineering admissions were secured using improvement exam scores rather than the regular class 12 exam scores, thereby disturbing the level playing field.

Improvement exams could be taken for three papers and had to be written immediately after the results. For example, if the board exam results were announced in June, the very next month, the student had to take the improvement exam.

“Not only medical but engineering admissions were based on Class 12 marks and entrance exam marks till 2005. Students could have passed the entrance but due to their low marks in board exams, they were unable to secure an admission. So, they opted for improvement exams” said S Bharath, a teacher and education counsellor in Chennai.

Till the improvement exam results were announced, the engineering admissions did not take place. So, the students who cleared the exams in the first attempt with good marks needed to wait.

But when admissions opened, students with higher marks in the improvement exams quickly got admissions, Bharath explained.

Also, students were allowed to write improvement exams for three years. Using this leeway, some students wrote improvement exams for each paper separately and secured medical seats, he added, explaining how some students took advantage of the system.

However, this left a majority of students from rural background at a disadvantage. Till 2005, only 7 per cent of Tamil medium students were able to secure admissions in engineering courses. Because of these reasons, the state government abolished improvement exams and also the state entrance exams for engineering courses.

“There were only 70 engineering colleges in the state till 2006. Post the abolishment of entrance exams, the number of engineering colleges started mushrooming. The number of Tamil medium students getting into engineering courses increased to 44 percent,” said Bharath.

Few takers for CBSE improvement exams

Under the CBSE system, if a student fails in only one paper, he or she can take a re-exam called ‘compartment’ exam, which is taken in July. If a student fails in two or more papers, he or she is deemed to have ‘failed’ and can take the papers again in October or March only, as a repeater.

When asked about the improvement exams conducted under CBSE, KR Nandakumar, state general secretary, Tamil Nadu Nursery, Matriculation, Higher Secondary and CBSE Schools Association said, many lack understanding about CBSE exam systems.

“If a student passed but secured less marks in one or more subjects, he or she can write the same subjects again to increase the marks, except the language papers. However, the marks in the improvement exam will be taken into account. Earlier, many students opted for improvement exams but the numbers have reduced because now they focus mainly on NEET and IIT-JEE exams. In the past, IITs admitted students based on entrance marks and Class 12 board marks. But nowadays, they give more importance to entrance marks,” he said to The Federal.

‘Students unaware about options’

Some parents, however, still seem to be in favour of reintroducing improvement exams.

“The state education boards in other states too have the system of improvement exams. When they get unfair advantage while joining institutions like IIT using the improvement exam marks, what’s wrong if the Tamil Nadu government brings back the improvement exam system?” said a parent to The Federal.

However, Bharath ruled out the possibility of deprivation of seats for Tamil Nadu students.

“The admissions to engineering colleges in the state are now based on Class 12 marks. We have a rule that only students of Tamil Nadu can join in government engineering colleges by producing their nativity certificates. This includes students who were born in Tamil Nadu but completed their Class 12 in other states. Students from other states can join in the management quota of private colleges or deemed universities. So the question of deprivation of seats for our state students does not arise,” he said.

Speaking to The Federal, Nedunchezhian, educationist and founder, India College Finder, said the state’s principle of ‘one attempt for equal opportunity’ is best and because of this, the system of improvement exams should not be reintroduced.

“The problems of CBSE are completely different. Compared to southern states, the student-teacher ratio in the northern states is less and the school expansion has not taken place in many regions. So the CBSE gives one more opportunity for students. Also the syllabus has not changed for many years,” he said.

He added that there are 80 different types of entrance exams being held in the country after Class 12. Out of 80, in 75 exams, the students can pass the entrance exams relatively easily and secure an admission with their Class 12 marks, he said.

“But the students are either unaware about those exams or reluctant to take up. Even if improvement exams are reintroduced here, it creates a lot of unnecessary problems,” Nedunchezhian said.

Read More
Next Story