The Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board (GSHSEB) had to award grace marks to students in the semester exams in at least four subjects to cover up for the errors in the objective question papers. The board awarded the highest grace mark of 21 in the objective question paper of Biology alone in the last Class XI and XII board examinations.
The case indicates that the board goofed up in 21 objective questions in the subject. The English version of this paper had seven errors leading to a grace mark of 7m while the Hindi and the Gujarati medium of the paper had four mistakes, so a grace mark of four each. A total of nearly 30 incorrect questions or options provided, has resulted in an equal number of grace marks, probably the first instance of awarding such high grace marks.
After parents complained the GSHSEB in person, emails or by post, the board has decided to make up for its mistakes even in chemistry, physics and mathematics papers, which have a comparatively lower error rate.
“In such a rigorous competitive environment when students fail to get admission in medical colleges by fraction of marks, such gross errors will really affect their future,” said Umang Shah, one of the parents from Ahmedabad who personally went to the board’s headquarters in Gandhinagar to submit his representation.
It was revealed that the error was on the part of moderators who set the question papers. “Usually if there are five moderators for each subject, and there is a good chance of the moderators knowing each other. In such a case, we cannot rule out the chances of these moderators discussing questions among themselves,” said a GSHSEB official.
Another parent, who is a paediatrician practising in Ahmedabad, said,“The students were already confused after the examination which was aggravated after the board uploaded the answer keys as the answers were incorrect. The board’s errors have also affected them mentally, leaving them stressed out and unable to concentrate on other examinations knowing that they despite working so hard and knowing the correct answers, they would lose marks without any fault of theirs.”
GSHSEB Deputy Director R R Thakkar accepted the mistake and said, “Admitting the errors and based on the representations, the board has decided to award grace marks to all students.” Though this has not been announced yet as the board is still waiting for representations from parents which are still pouring in daily at the board’s headquarters. “There is likely a chance of any change in this number but still we would consider all representations.”
On the measures to be taken to put a check on repetition of such goof-ups, Thakkar said, “There are 20 sets of one subject in one semester, which means 60 sets in one semester and 120 in two, which is a huge number. The board is considering to study paper setting system followed by other state boards like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and others. Similarly, the CBSE would be contacted to understand the system followed by them.”
This is not the first time that question papers had errors, but not to such an extent. Though the board has adopted a method of inviting objections to the provisional answer keys uploaded on the board’s website, parents have complained of errors in the final key as well which is prepared after taking into note all representations submitted by parents and students.