CBSE to start Open Book Exam System with OTBA for Class 9 and 11 from 2014

In an unprecedented move with the potential to revolutionize the country's school education system under K12, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has formally issued circulars (vide CBSE Circular No: Acad-69/2013) to all CBSE affiliated schools across India to implement ‘Open Book Exam System’ under Open Text Based Assessment (OTBA) for classes 9 and 11 final exams starting March 2014.

The Open Text-Based Assessment OTBA will be a part of Summative Assessment (SA) II to be held in March, 2014 is being launched as a pilot project for the Class 9 and 11 in some subjects only. The new testing system will cover English, Hindi, mathematics, science and social science for Class 9 and geography, economics and biology for Class 11. Accordingly, the various schools which fall under the ambit of CBSE will implement the OTBA (Open Text Based Assessment) system only in these subjects. 

What is Open Book Examination System of CBSE

The Open Book Examination does not mean books will be allowed inside the examination hall. Rather students will be given a set of study materials by their schools about four 

months ahead of the examination. Such Open Text Study Materials already released by CBSE for its first OTBA to be held in 2014 are in the form of an article, illustrations, diagrams, problems etc. 

In order to accommodate OTBA the CBSE has reworked its marks distribution process. In anticipation of some problems because of the introduction of a new system, CBSE has decided to restrict the OTBA’s initial scope to just 10 marks in the annual examinations for classes 9 and 11 in the subjects already mentioned. So under the new Open Text Based Assessment (OTBA) system, the question papers in main subjects of Summative Assessment will be of 90 marks and the question paper in each main subject will have a separate “Open Book Exam” section of 10 marks for OTBA. The “Open Book Exam” section will comprise text material accompanied by two or three questions from the supplied study material. The nature of these questions may be subjective, creative or open ended requiring Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS). 

The CBSE will also bring out guidance material for students, teachers and parents to help them prepare for the test. The CBSE circular to all its affiliated schools states that, “OTBAs are meant to incorporate analytical and theoretical skills, thus moving away from memorization.”


Keywords: CBSE, OTBA, Open Book Exam, Open Text Based Assessment