Looking beyond the Board exams

Last Updated : 12 January 2011, 12:10 IST
Last Updated : 12 January 2011, 12:10 IST

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“This too shall pass" say the wise men when you are faced with some difficulty that looks insurmountable. To those appearing for Board exams in March, the tension and anxiety may be steadily increasing (of course, there are many students who have no exam tension at all, thus causing a lot of tension to their parents!)

Those appearing for their 10th standard exams are facing Boards for the first time in their lives. After a smooth transition from class to class, they have been thrust into the world of serious study, pressure from all sides, and the warnings that unless they perform exceedingly well, their future will be very bleak.

In a way it is true. Performance in 10th standard is recorded in the bio-data of an individual throughout his life, when he is going for higher studies (for example, admission to IIMs through CAT gives 10% weightage to 10th standard marks), and also for jobs.

Due to this pressure, many students get caught up in a rigorous routine of studies, forsaking all their other activities - including looking ahead to their future.  And yet it is proven by research that those who appear for Board exams having their long-term career goals in place inevitably perform better than those who study blindly for marks without having any clear career plans.

Hence it is imperative that a student who is appearing for Board exams this year spends some valuable time visualising and planning for his or her future. Often, it so happens that students relax after the exams, and suddenly when the results are announced they panic since admissions to good colleges are closed with just a few days' notice. This leads to wrong decisions in the selection of optional subjects, and possible regret later.

Choices available

Let us list out the options available to students who are completing their 10th standard this year:

*Continue in +2 in the same stream if he has taken up CBSE, ICSE, NIOS, etc., or even interchange between these streams.

*Take up PUC (also known as Intermediate in some states), with one of the combinations given in the table given below.

*Switch over to international boards like IB or IGCSE, or to the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS). The advantage here is that one can choose from a wide range of subjects not confined to specific fields like science or commerce.

*Take up a 3-year polytech-nic diploma in engineering. After successful completion, one is eligible for lateral entry into 2nd year of BE, then becoming an engineering graduate in 3+3 years, instead of 2+4.

*Take up vocational or tech-nical courses like ITIs or computer certification progr-ams that are recognised by the industry but do not entitle you to higher studies in India.

Selection of subjects should be done not only on the basis of which ones you enjoy studying, but the ones that lead you to your ultimate career goals. If you are taking up some subjects that you are either not very comfortable with (or have not studied up to 10th, like commerce subjects, or Statistics, Psychology, etc.) then do take the trouble of reading the 11th standard text books of that subject to familiarise yourself and to ensure that you are not taken by surprise. If, for some reason, you find the subjects difficult or not to your liking, give a second thought. But, ultimately, make sure that your selection of subjects keeps options open for what you wish to do in future. For example, if you are likely to take up an MCA after graduation, it is compulsory that you should have studied either Math or Computer Science in your +2. Similarly, if you wish to be a pilot, you should have studied Math and Physics.

Once you have selected your long-term career goals, work backwards to see what qualifications will give you a good opening in that field. Then evaluate which subjects at the +2 level will give you a better chance of getting into the courses at degree and post-graduate level.

While studying hard for your Board exams, periodically take a short break and introspect as mentioned above. Given below is a table covering most (not all) of the choices that are open to you:

Check against...

Do not check how you did in individual papers when the exams are going on. Once all the exams are over, you will be tempted to just forget all about academics and catch up on enjoying life. Take some time off to check how you did in all the papers, and what percentage you are likely to get. That will determine which college you will get admission in. If you are particular about taking up subject combinations that are in demand, check out whether your likely percentage will get you admission. If the cut-off from the previous year was significantly higher, then start exploring other colleges. Do not put all your eggs in one basket - if your results are below your expectations and you do not get admission, you may then have to compromise and go to a very ordinary institution.

Similarly, if there is any threat that you may not actually clear any particular subject, do take the time to study it once again. If the result is negative, you will have very little time before the supplementary exams.  The extra studies you do after your exam and before your results will not go a waste if you pass. It will help you breeze through your 11th standard smoothly.

If you have failed very badly in one subject and do not feel confident of clearing it even in the supplementary exam, then consider the alternative of NIOS, where you can drop boring or difficult subjects and select any five subjects of your choice. Check for details on www.nios.ac.in.

Published 12 January 2011, 12:04 IST

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