Tough nut Chemistry dashes engineering, UG aspirants’ hopes- The New Indian Express


Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: While the number of A+holders in all subjects in the Higher Secondary Plus-II examination dropped by a little over 40% this year, the decline in the number of A+grades in the Chemistry exam was 52%—the highest among Science subjects. The variation became all the more glaring in the wake of controversies relating to the Chemistry question paper and the answer key used for evaluation.

Notably, the number of students who failed in the Chemistry examination also increased from 12,135 last year to 19,705. This, when other Science subjects such as Physics and Biology did not show considerable variation in the number of A+ grades or failed students. “This year, there has been a sharp increase in the number of students who secured A+ grade in all other subjects but had to be content with A grade in Chemistry. But what is significant is the rise in the number of students who failed in Chemistry, which is second only to Mathematics among the Science subjects,” said a higher secondary school principal.

The controversy over the Chemistry question paper began when teachers pointed out inconsistencies in the finalized answer key that was given to them in evaluation camps. It was alleged that the answer key prepared by the question setter himself was used instead of taking the views of senior teachers in the scheme finalisation camp. It was pointed out that a student would lose up to 18 marks if the unmodified answer key was retained. A large section of the teachers had boycotted valuation camps demanding that the anomalies be rectified. The General Education Department’s disciplinary action against the protesters further intensified the row. The final answer key brought out under the supervision of an ‘expert committee’ of teachers also reportedly recommended a rigid valuation scheme.

According to a source in the General Education Department, many factors were responsible for the overall low score in Chemistry. A tough question paper, limited focus area portions and strict instructions not to show undue leniency in valuation were the main factors. “Last year’s allegation that the state board was unduly awarding marks to its students, did have a bearing on the strict evaluation followed this year,” the official admitted.

Since marks in subjects including Chemistry are taken into account for the preparation of the engineering entrance rank list, a low score will affect the prospects of state syllabus students. It will also have an impact during admission to undergraduate courses, it is pointed out. “The option for students who have scored low in Chemistry is to attempt the Higher Secondary improvement exam slated next month. However, there are demands from students to increase the number of subjects, for which improvement is allowed, to two or three taking into account the peculiar situation this year,” said a higher secondary teacher.

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