March 20, 2017: Another year and another Mathematics paper that left students disheartened. CBSE Class 12 Board Examination for Mathematics just concluded. The verdict of the most eagerly awaited paper is out and it says – difficult. Even though reports had suggested that CBSE would work towards making the mathematics paper easier this year, students reported that the paper was tricky and few questions were definitely for higher order levels. Some teachers too were worried, suggesting that the level of difficulty might make it difficult for average level students to get more than the pass percentage. Then the questions we have to ask is, is the board consciously increasing the difficulty level of the mathematics paper? Sources suggest that might well be the case. Also Read | CBSE Board Exams 2017: Maths paper tough, students report paper to be tricky

As per a few teachers, when the CBSE officials were quizzed last year about the increasing difficulty of the mathematics paper of Class 12, the officials conducting workshops had commented that it was the need of global quality standards. Sources reveal that as per the officials, the level of Indian students as compared to International standards of aptitude was on a decline. In other words, students in India were constantly faltering on questions which other students across the world were able to do easily. If reports are to be believed, India was ranking among the last few countries in terms of technical aptitude. This, as per board officials, needs to be corrected and hence the difficulty level of mathematics was on a rise.

While the reasoning seems logical, the fact remains that year on year the subject has started to create a sense of dread with the students and parents. Teachers are even suggesting that more and more students are opting out of the subject after Class 10. One mathematics teacher shared, “The increased level of difficulty prompts schools to make the paper tougher which is making students opt out of the subject.” Another teacher, however is of the opinion that it is important to have higher order skills among students. “CBSE is very clear about the level of difficulty and the students are accordingly prepped. What parents need to understand is that on an average, 80 to 85 percent of the paper is fairly easy and can be attempted with ease. But one has to be able to distinguish among students and accordingly there would be those questions which would leave students feeling that the paper level was difficulty.”

While the anecdotes continue and parents and students and teacher argue over the rationale, the fact remains that Mathematics as one subject is steadily losing its acceptability with the youth of the country. With a country famous for its IT industry and among the largest exported of STEM based students for studies abroad, this trend is indeed a point of concern. And while academicians counter the merits of a difficult paper, the fact remains that CBSE on its part is giving out a balanced approach. The effort is not towards making the level difficult but instead challenging the students to think outside and implement their learning in a broader perspective.