CBSE to conduct trials of open-book exams for classes 9-12

CBSE plans to conduct Open Book Examinations are expected to start in November-December in selected schools.

<red> May 6th, 2024 <red>

CBSE Conducting Open Book Examination for 2025 Session

What Started This?

CBSE plans to conduct open book test examinations for CBSE Class 9 to 12 students in November or December (tentative). The pilot study will be conducted in some selected schools to check whether the open book test examinations are achievable.

The subjects chosen are Science, English, and Mathematics for Classes 9 and 10 and for Classes 11 and 12, Biology, English, and Maths. On August 23rd, 2023, the Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan launched the New Education Curriculum (Source:

The Open Book Test will be aligned with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 to implement the guidelines. The pilot test will evaluate problem-solving, applying, analysing, high-order thinking, and critical skills, concluding their competency-based education.

Serial No. Content
1 What is an Open Book Test for CBSE students?
2 Challenges with Open Book Test for CBSE schools
3 Is It Happening for the First Time?
4 How Will the CBSE Open-Book Examinations Be Conducted?

What is an Open Book Test for CBSE students?

This method is a better alternative to the traditional way of conducting exams. In Open Book Tests or examinations, the students can bring their reference material, notes, or prescribed textbooks. In restricted OBT, the students can flip through the approved material whereas in free OBT, students can use their preferred material.

What is the Idea Behind CBSE Open-Book Exams?

The NEP (National Educational Policy) 2020 doesn’t directly focus on open-book tests but is a technique to implement competency-based learning. The students would be able to understand the practicality of the concept rather than sticking to the definition. For example, photosynthesis won’t be limited to rote learning only but students will be able to exhibit the sunlight’s effect on plants. 

The Central Board of Secondary Education plans to explore the alternatives for the regular exams. The exam aims to reduce the emphasis on rote learning and help students to improve their critical-thinking skills. The examination aims to reduce the educational stress on students and reduce student suicide cases related to exams.

Challenges with Open Book Test for CBSE schools

There can be many possible challenges both teachers, as well as students, may face during the open book test occurrence. 

  1. Designing Question Papers: The questions could be framed directly from the books in the traditional exams but with open-book test exams, it is not possible. The teachers have to design innovative, fresh and practical application-based question papers for these exams to avoid cheating. 
  2. Students Getting Unserious about Exams: For students, it will be like answering the questions using the prescribed textbooks and for that, they won’t even study. They won’t even focus on developing critical-thinking skills. 
  3. Confusion on how to use books during tests: The idea of an open book test is to let the student leverage books to refer to theory/formulas/concepts etc and apply their understanding to answer the question. However, students may get confused and start searching for the exact questions from books to avoid the effort of thinking. Other time-wastage use cases may emerge that can defeat the purpose.
Source: YouTube

CBSE along with the committee involving DU will discuss all the shortcomings and will try to find the required best solution for the CBSE  open-book exams exam trials for classes 9-12. 

CBSE Open Book Exams in India: Is It Happening for the First Time?


CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) conducted Open Book Exams in 2014 for the first time. It was termed as Open Text Based Assessment (OBTA) and was conducted for CBSE Class 9 and Class 11. For Class 9, OBTA was conducted for Hindi, English, Mathematics, Science, and Social Science subjects and Economics, Biology, and Geography, for Class 11.

Source: CBSE Circular Acad-39/2013

The aim was to reduce the academic burden and improve critical thinking skills. For the 2017-18 academic session, the exams were discontinued due to their inability to improve critical thinking skills.  

Source: Report by IJSRM

As seen from the IJSRM report, there was mixed feedback for the CBSE Open Book Exams conducted in 2014. 

In 2019, AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) allowed open book examinations with an advisory body’s recommendation in engineering colleges. During the COVID-19 Lockdown, in 2020-21, the open book examinations were conducted in many central universities like IIT Bombay, Delhi University, JNU, Jamia Islamia University, and Aligarh Muslim University.

How Will the CBSE Open-Book Examinations Be Conducted?

CBSE is planning to seek guidance from Delhi University to conduct open-book examinations and will try to improve the student’s experience. 

How does DU conduct the Open Book Test Examination?

Source: Ref.No.Exam.VIl/2022/ 132  DU

When the pandemic hit the world, the lockdown was implemented in 2019. Delhi University decided to conduct online open-book test examinations for PG Courses. The training was given for both teachers and students and students were asked to upload their answer sheets on one portal-

  • Students had to visit the link and sign up by entering their details (Enrollment number (optional), Programme name, DoB, Examination roll number, registered Email or mobile phone number). After successful registration, the password was mailed to their registered mail IDs or mobile numbers. 

  • Login using the credentials on the examination day. 
  • The download button appeared once the examination started. 
  • The exam duration was 2 hours and an extra 1 hour was allotted for IT-related (downloading the papers or addressing the problems). 
  • Students had to upload the answer sheets within the required time (the file size must not exceed 7 MB). 
  • Click on “UFM declaration) and answer sheet confirmation. 

Shortcomings of the DU Open Book Test

DU students faced several technical issues along with getting the wrong questions. The students even listed their complaints using #DUAgainstOnlineExams. 

Source: India TV

  • The website kept crashing.
  • Questions weren’t from the syllabus. 
  • Unable to download the question paper. 
  • Many question papers weren’t even uploaded.

Mr Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Union Human Resource and Development Minister instructed UGC (University Grant Commission) to revisit the open book test guidelines and find the required solution for the same. 

The open book is a really good idea since students won’t rely only on the exercise questions and it would promote real-life application-based learning. Students wouldn’t find themselves stuck with the definitions only but would understand how it impacts the surroundings, people, or them. It would require proper training for the teachers and students to understand the exams. 

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