A few days back the results of 10th and 12th Std students were declared, across all boards. In one of the boards (eg: Karnataka State Board) exam, the student scored 625/625 and hence was the topper in the state. But this is not the story of a single state. Almost all states had numerous students with above 90% scores. While everybody congratulated the toppers, some lamented about the failures. There were many articles, urging students who failed, to take it positively, not take any drastic steps and work towards clearing the exams in the next attempt. While all this is good, nobody seemed to have spared a thought for the students who scored 60, 70 or even 80%. You might wonder what is there to worry about. Congratulate them, tell them to perform better in future and move on!

Let me break this up for all the non-Indian parents reading. India is a country with 1.25 billion people. In 2016 alone there were over 25 lakh students who appeared for 10th and 12th exams, opting for CBSE syllabus alone. Apart from this there is state board, ICSE board, IB board etc. So with these numbers stacked against them, the children are pressurized to perform well in these exams. Only if they score well in these exams they might have a chance of getting admitted into their preferred course or college. There is hardly any room for error, especially students who fall under general/open category. They have nothing, except their scores to take them through.

With this grim background, now think of students who scored 60-70-80%. With the high number of pass percent and high scores, in recent years these students won’t get seats anywhere. Atleast, not in any of the good colleges. There have been reports where even small town colleges have a cut-off percent of 90% So, where does a child scoring average and above average percentage go?

He can’t repeat the exams as he hasn’t failed. He can’t get admissions in his choice of college or even his preferred subject, so what next? He might think the easy way out is ending his life! While not everybody will take the extreme step, some might go to a less preferred college; if they get the subject of their choice, while some will have to change their preference. All these changes will further diminish their chances of opting for a preferred career course and thereby result in an adult who is dejected and frustrated with his situation, and life in general.  As a lesson from his mistake, he will pressure his child to focus on scoring only 90 and above. Nothing short of 90% will do! And thus the paranoia continues.


high score
Image Credit- All Poster


What I fail to understand is that after more than 60 years of independence and many such deject stories, how can we still depend on rote method of education? Shouldn’t our education system develop and enhance the creativity in English or any other language that the child studies? Same goes for reasoning in Science, fundamentals and quick thinking in Maths, Practical Knowledge in Geography and deep love for past stories in History.

Until we nurture this how can the children can go beyond the thought of a good paying job? If we want innovators and creators, we need to teach them to be fearless. We don’t need a system which cushions the child from every challenge, rather a system that helps them raise up to every challenge and that can happen, not with roting, but by acclimatizing them with real world challenges. Why do we need exams with MCQ? Why can’t the children be exposed to the many career options available right from middle school with some practical exposures so that they can make informed decisions when they reach high school. It might help many children to look beyond Engineering and Medicine, thereby creating an inclusive and thriving environment.

6 Replies to “India and its obsession with 90 percent score”

  1. Hmmm, that is definitely sad and troubling. I am somewhat familiar with the Chinese education system, and their futures also hang on One Big Test. It’s so much easier to quantify people’s abilities rather than examine them in a subjective or “big picture” sort of light – I suppose that’s why these tests exist, even if it’s not right. Thanks for posting!

  2. Of course, maths and science are important but not more than arts, commerce or humanities. Instead of finding their talents and nurturing them, the students are forced into a stream in which they are elligible because of their exam scores. Then there’s no wonder, why there is job trajedy, college dropouts and high deppression rates among students.
    Surely, there is a need for the change, because the thing which is at stake here is not only the future of the students but also the Future of the nation.
    The reason I am into blogging is to create an awareness among the society for the improvement of the education system and among all this its pleasing to read your post. Thanks for the post……..

    1. Yes! We need to work to provide our children with many career options, education that they enjoy and can utilize and the first step to it is letting them figure out their passion

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