Kolkata: In a major announcement, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday that the state government has decided to conduct the Higher Secondary (Class XII) exams in the last week of July, while the Madhyamik (Class X) exams will be held in the second week of August, thus becoming one of the first states in the country to announce dates for board exams.

As per the announcement, tests will be held only for the compulsory subjects, while the schools will give marks for the additional subjects based on internal assessment.

"We understand the importance of these two examinations and so we are the first state to announce the schedule. Higher Secondary examination will be held ahead of Madhyamik in the last week of July. We decided to conduct the Higher Secondary exam first, as it is the gateway to higher studies and the students need to sit for the all-India level entrance tests," Banerjee said.

The Chief Minister also made it clear that this year the students will not have to go to any other school to write their papers; instead, there will be home centres and the school authorities, according to their strength, will arrange for sanitisation and sitting arrangement, maintaining all the Covid protocols.

Banerjee also said that the time tenure of both the exams will be 1.5 hours, instead of the usual 3 hours.

Detailing out the revised structure of the exams, the Chief Minister said, "There are 15 compulsory subjects and 37 additional subjects in the three streams. We have decided to take exams only of the compulsory subjects, which are likely to take 16 days. Marks for the additional subjects will be given by the respective schools based on internal assessment."

There are around 8.5 lakh students who are eligible to appear for the Higher Secondary exams.

As far as Class X board exams are concerned, the Chief Minister said, "Madhyamik is our internal examination and so we have decided to conduct it in the second week of August. There are a total of 12 lakh students and they will take their examination in their home centres only.

"The exam duration will be of 1.5 hours and the students will have to appear for the 7 compulsory subjects only. Marks for the additional subjects will be given by the school authorities on the basis of internal assessment."

"As far as the safety and security of the answer papers are concerned, it has been decided that the answer sheets will be stored in the nearby police station and if there is no police station in the nearby sreas, they will have to be stored in a government administrative building that is close by. The police will guard the papers until they are finally dispatched," Banerjee added.

The Chief Minister also said that the details of the exams and their roadmap will be provided by the state education department.

"We have chalked out the outline of the whole process. The rest of the decisions will be taken by the state education department," she said.