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Understanding CBSE Overhaul: What to Expect in the New Exam Format for Classes 11 and 12 in 2024-2025

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has implemented a significant overhaul of the exam format for Classes 11 and 12, starting in the academic year 2024-2025. This shift aims to move away from rote memorization and towards a more holistic assessment of a student’s understanding and ability to apply concepts. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect in the new exam format:

Focus on Competency-Based Questions:

  • A key change is the increased weightage of competency-based questions. These questions, constituting 50% of the exam now (up from 40% previously), assess a student’s ability to:
    • Apply knowledge to real-world situations.
    • Analyze and interpret information.
    • Solve problems critically and creatively.
  • Examples of competency-based questions include:
    • Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs): Testing basic understanding and factual recall.
    • Case-based questions: Presenting a scenario and requiring students to analyze it using relevant concepts.
    • Source-based questions: Providing data or text excerpts and asking students to interpret and draw conclusions.

Reduced Emphasis on Traditional Answer Types:

  • The weightage of traditional long-answer questions has decreased to 30% (from 40% previously). This doesn’t eliminate them entirely, but emphasizes concise and focused explanations demonstrating a deep understanding of the subject matter.
  • Short answer questions are likely to remain, but may require more analysis and application of knowledge compared to simple recall.

Alignment with National Education Policy (NEP) 2020:

  • This overhaul aligns with the NEP 2020’s vision of a competency-based education system. The NEP emphasizes:
    • Holistic development: Focusing on critical thinking, problem-solving, and life skills alongside academics.
    • Conceptual understanding: Moving away from rote memorization and towards a deeper grasp of concepts.
    • Continuous evaluation: Incorporating various assessment methods beyond just final exams.

Benefits of the New Format:

  • Reduced Exam Stress: The new format, with a focus on application and analysis, may help reduce the pressure of rote memorization often associated with board exams.
  • Encourages Deeper Learning: Students are incentivized to understand concepts thoroughly and think critically to solve problems.
  • Improved Skill Development: The emphasis on applying knowledge translates to better development of critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills.
  • Better Preparation for Higher Education and Careers: The new format prepares students for the demands of higher education and professional settings where applying knowledge is crucial.

Challenges and Tips for Students:

  • Adapting to New Question Formats: Practicing with sample papers and questions aligned with the new format is essential.
  • Developing Analytical Skills: Students should focus on understanding the “why” behind concepts, not just memorizing facts.
  • Time Management: The new format might require a shift in exam-taking strategies to ensure efficient utilization of time for all question types.
  • Subject-Specific Strategies: Consult teachers and resources for subject-specific tips to tackle the new question formats effectively.


The CBSE’s exam format overhaul represents a significant shift towards a more holistic and competency-based education system. While it presents some challenges, it ultimately benefits students by encouraging deeper learning, critical thinking, and practical application of knowledge. By adapting their study strategies and focusing on understanding concepts, students can excel in the new exam format and be better prepared for future endeavors.