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It was in 2014 that the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) introduced an open book assessment system for pre-board students in grades nine and tenth. The aim was to revolutionize the learning process through a better understanding of the concept and its practical application as opposed to encouraging just mugging up for exams. The Open Text Based Assessment (OTBA) has questions that tickle the grey matter of students while pushing them to think on a higher level to test what is known as Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS). This pushes ahead of the unconventional learning module wherein students can now put on their thinking hats and approach the exam through a pragmatic approach. The advantage of the system such as OTBA is that it prepares one for the future wherein they remember the lessons taught in school and apply them for problem-solving in real life. Let us get a detailed understanding of the guidelines to ace OTBA for Class 9 2018.

A part of CBSE’s revised grading pattern for students of classes 9 and 11, the OTBA takes part in Summative Assessment II. Each year CBSE revises and provides suitable learning kit for the students to prepare for the OTBA exams. Every affiliated school is provided with this textual kit for preparing and guiding the students before the assessment commences. Students and parents can also visit the official academic website of CBSE ( to avail the text material which is available in PDF format.

OTBA for Class 9 2018 Question Pattern

There is an individual OTBA exam for each of the subjects of class XI, for example, one for Science, English, Mathematics, Hindi and Social Science. About 20% of the question in the final exams are based on case studies or previously provided text material. The shortlisted text material is in the form of an article, a case study, a picture or a cartoon or a problem/situation. For each of the five main subjects for class 9, the question paper of OTBA for Class 9 will have a separate section of 10 marks allotted for Open Text Based Assessment (OTBA). The OTBA aims to strengthen students’ analytical and theoretical skills by moving away from the trend of rote learning.

A theme is given and questions asked on the basis of the theme. For example, a sample of 2017-17 OTBA English paper had the theme of “Nurturing Compassionate Citizens” wherein several pieces of information in the form of case studies were provided on animal cruelty, works of organizations like PETA to stop animal cruelty and so on. Based on that information, questions asked were:

  • You are an amateur animal rights activist. Write a letter to the editor voicing your concern on cruelty towards animals.
  • Write a formal letter to the Ministry of Environment mentioning the steps that the government together with the community can take to sensitize people’s attitude towards animals and their care.
  • Draft a plan as to how the local people can look after stray and wounded animals in the neighborhood.
  • Design a poster to spread awareness about steps that can be taken to look after stray animals.
  • As a Member of the Animal Rights Club of your school, write a speech for the school assembly highlighting the far-reaching and disastrous effects of poaching and illegal wildlife trade.

The aim of the above theme was to let students feel empathetic towards animals and not engage in cruelty while the educational aim was to test the practical approach of students by putting their skills to test.

Similarly, for Science, the theme was “Solid Waste Management – How to bring best out of waste?” The aim was to encourage students to be environmentally friendly and learn policies of effective solid waste management, formulate strategies for effective waste management, so on and so forth.

Based on the provided material for solid waste management, questions asked were as follow:

  • Waste management can help in improving the health status of our country. Justify the statement.
  • Rag pickers act as saviors for municipal corporations. Elaborate on their role in waste management.
  • Suggest any one strategy for effective waste management being used in your area/ locality/school.

On the basis of the text material and case study given to students, the questions are set which are mostly application based as is evident from the above-provided samples. The answers of students are reflective of their ability to analyze the situations provided and come up with the best practical solutions. These answers are expected to be innovative, out of the box and testing of the students’ analytical skills. It also encourages students to think deeper and look outside into the bigger picture. Teachers are expected to assess based on the students’ ability to answer showing these skills and with multiple perspectives.


Questions will be asked based on one of the themes given in each subject. The textual content related to the theme shall be provided with the question paper. Teachers are expected to note that the questions based on the Open Text Based Assessment are open-ended. The objective of these questions is to allow students to present their perspective on the given question/with reference to the OTBA material, concepts learned during the teaching-learning, discussions held in the classroom and their own awareness of the given theme/text.

It is important that a student must be able to present his/her arguments logically, coherently and cogently. Hence while teachers are correcting their answers, it is important to be open-minded about the students’ views. The answers which are included in the given Marking Scheme is just a reminder of indicative points to a mentioned question. Due credit should be given to the relevance of the content, analysis, logical presentation of arguments and conclusions drawn in the answer.

You can refer to an OTBA for class 9 question paper from 2017 to touch base the question pattern.

CBSE-OTBA-Class-9-Science-2017-Theme 1

CBSE-OTBA-Class-9-Science-2017-Theme 2

To go through a concise overview of Science notes for Class 9, click here.

Hope you liked our article on OTBA for class 9!

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