DUBAI // Thousands of Indian Grade 10 pupils in the UAE received the results of their March examinations on Tuesday.
The standardised examinations are taken by Grade 10 pupils at Indian high schools across the world and evaluated in Delhi by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). Last year, a total of 886,338 students worldwide sat the exams.
Two major changes were made to the system this year to ease the pressure on pupils who take the so-called "boards": pupils could opt for internal exams instead of Delhi-marked exams, and the final mark included a percentage of marks earned throughout the year.
Most schoolchildren in the UAE opted out of taking the internal exams for fear it could hamper their admission to high schools in India.
Sonia Cherian's daughter Michelle attends Indian High School in Dubai, and Mrs Cherian said she insisted her daughter take the Delhi-assessed exams in case they ever travel back to India.
"It was just to ensure that she would not have a problem getting into any school there," said the parent whose daughter received a perfect Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 10 points.
At Delhi Private School, 78 of 100 pupils in Grade 10 opted for Dubai-marked exams this year.
Rashmi Nandkeolyar, principal of the school, said children were more comfortable taking the internal tests. "They found it safer as it was being corrected by teachers who know their potential and would reduce discrepancies," she said.
The new marking structure, Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE), means teachers are able to record development not just in knowledge retained, but in analytical, emotional, literary, creative and aesthetic skills as well. Health and physical education were given equal importance while grading pupils.
Ms Nandkeolyar described the CCE system is a "more emancipated process" of grading pupils. "It allows for improvement as there is no single high-stakes examination," she said.
The board allowed students to improve grades if they scored well in co-scholastic areas such as values or hobbies.
"It is a more practical way of gauging the capability of the child and a 360-degree approach to testing."
The changes follow on the heels of last year's switch from percentage points to a grade-based reporting system. The switch was made in an effort to discourage unhealthy competition.
The grading system has not gone down well with many pupils who would still prefer exact marks.
Mohammed Shajeer, who achieved a CGPA of 9.4, said he was happy with his grades but wants to know how much he scored in all his subjects.
"It's difficult to say if I've got better marks or lower than others who got the same CGPAs," he said.
Ms Cherian, on the other hand, believes the process provides a fair chance to all pupils to be top scorers. "It's unfair to rank students with a point percentage difference," she said. "This system places students with the same ability level in one band."