Once students make it to the higher secondary schools, into Classes 11 and 12, they are expected to have acquired a reasonable degree of language proficiency, whether it is Urdu, Sanskrit, Hindi or English. The Class 12 English language and literature course is designed with the purpose of promoting higher-order language skills.

For most students, high school education is a preparatory stage for the university, necessitating a high degree of English language proficiency. There are still others who view higher secondary school as a stepping stone into the
world of professional work.

The Board Examination, especially for Class 12, holds immense significance as the exam results decide the career path for students.

The Core Course in English, designed by the Central Board of Secondary Education in India (CBSE), and implemented through the prescription of NCERT books, aims to benefit both these groups by promoting the language skills required for academic study as well as the language skills required for the workplace.

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going to college
High school education is a stepping stone towards securing admission into colleges and universities | Source: Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Objectives of the CBSE Syllabus for Class 12 English

There are certain objectives with which the education board sets out the syllabus and the parameters of assessment for the Board exams, one of the most competitive exams in India. These objectives are both generic in nature, as well as unique to the requirements of English learning in class. We will discuss both.

General Objectives

  • To listen and comprehend as well as record oral presentations on a variety of topics.
  • To be able to develop greater confidence and proficiency in the use of English language skills necessary for social and academic purposes.
  • To be able to perceive the overall meaning and organization of a text.
  • To identify the central/main theme of a text and its supporting details, etc.
  • To promote advanced language skills with an aim to develop the skills of reasoning, drawing inferences, etc.
  • Ability to translate texts from the mother tongue(s)/ native language into English as a second language and vice versa.
  • To develop the ability in independent reflection and inquiry.
  • Read and comprehend extended texts (prescribed and non-prescribed) across a variety of genres, including science-fiction, drama, poetry, biography, autobiography, travel, sports literature, etc.
  • Develop text-based writing skills, understand, and respond to lectures, speeches, etc.
  • Write expository/ argumentative essays, explain or develop a given topic, argue a case, write formal/informal letters, and applications for different purposes.
  • Write work-related topics such as minutes, memoranda, notices, summaries, reports, etc.
  • Fill up of forms, prepare CVs, e-mails, make notes from reference materials, record talks, etc.

Focus on the following areas of grammar:

  • The use of passive forms in scientific and innovative writings.
  • Converting one kind of sentence/clause into a different kind.
  • Display stylistic variations in different discourses, based on semantic considerations.

Objectives Specific to the Reading of Literature

Whether it is English Class 12 poems' explanation or analyses of prose, students are expected to develop the following study techniques and academic writing skills:

  • Use of dictionaries, encyclopedia, thesaurus, and academic reference material
  • Select and extract relevant information, using reading skills of skimming and scanning
  • Understand the writer's attitude and bias
  • Comprehend the difference between what is said and what is implied
  • Understand the language of propaganda and persuasion
  • Differentiate between claims and realities, facts and opinions, fiction and non-fiction
  • Arrive at personal conclusion and comment on a given text
  • Develop original and creative thinking and the ability to be logically persuasive in defending one's opinion.

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library books
Most sources of human knowledge are in the English language, making it the most valuable language in the world | Source: Alfons Morales on Unsplash

Specific Literary Skills

  • Personally respond to literary texts
  • Appreciate and analyze special features of languages that differentiate literary texts from non-literary ones
  • Explore and evaluate features of character, plot, setting, etc.
  • Understand and appreciate the oral, mobile and visual elements of drama.
  • Identify stylistic elements such as humor, pathos, satire, irony, etc.
  • Make notes from various resources and develop them into sustained pieces of writing.

Section C: Literature and Long Reading Text

The exam dates for CBSE have been announced. Based on the exam syllabus, questions paper analysis from previous years, as well as the latest sample papers released by CBSE (download all in PDF form), form an idea about what to expect in your own exam.

Sample papers are a very important resource for revision, especially for English (Core) Exam 2020.

This Sample Paper is based on the latest CBSE exam pattern and is published by the Central Board of Secondary Education itself. For downloading NCERT textbooks and reference books, simply go online and download them in PDF form.  Here is a breakup of the type of questions you can expect from each chapter.

Flamingo and Vistas

  • Very Short Answer Questions - Based on an extract from poetry to test comprehension and appreciation.
  • Short Answer Questions - Based on prose/drama/poetry from both the texts.
  • Long Answer Question - Based on texts to test global comprehension and extrapolation beyond the texts to bring out the key messages and values.
  • Long Answer Question - Based on texts to test global comprehension along with analysis and extrapolation.
  • Long Answer Question - Based on the theme, plot, and incidents from the prescribed novels.
  • Long Answer Question - Based on understanding appreciation, analysis and interpretation of the character sketch.

Prescribed Class 12 English Books

  1. Flamingo: English Reader published by NCERT
  2. Vistas: Supplementary Reader published by NCERT

Extended Reading Texts

  • The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
  • Silas Marner by George Eliot
english literature
The world of English literature is an inclusive space, covering topics of all genres and addressing readers across all walks of life | Source: Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The Anatomy of Literature

Consider this: you interact mostly in English, when you are on social media, your SMS language is in English, you read English instructions on the Internet, and so on. So, you are literally following a practical manual on the English language in your daily activities!

You analyze English texts all the time, without even realizing that you are an expert in it!

The next step is obviously to figure out how to become a pro in writing an essay in English, with the necessary quotation and referencing from literary texts, and the application of basic grammar and composition rules. Finally, you must give yourself time to proofread what you have written. Those missing punctuations can make a world of difference!

Comprehension: The First Step

The first step towards successfully analyzing English literary texts is to simply read it once, or twice, with the express purpose of comprehending it.  The process of comprehension also has certain rules for it. Ask yourself:

  • Does the text make sense, in its entirety?
  • Is the text coherent? In other words, does the beginning of the plot logically lead to the middle and then, to the end?
  • Are there important plot points that need recognition and special attention on your part?


Once you have comprehended the meaning of the text, as a whole, you will be ready to move on to the interpretation of the text. Essentially, this means, putting your creative and original hat on to fit in the pieces of the puzzle that are not explicitly stated. Examining things like mood and tone of a scene or character motivation in a specific moment, are useful ways to interpret a text.

interpreting texts
Make notes of your observations and interpretations of a text. Put them all together at the end of your reading exercise to form a meaningful whole | Source: Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Make Your Case

In the last stage of literary analysis, once the stages of story comprehension and personal interpretation have been cleared, put every bit of information together to prepare an analytical statement about the literary piece, as a whole. Remember, literary analysis is very subjective, meaning it depends on the worldviews of the reader. Therefore, there cannot be one right way of doing it or a correct answer to it.

Include elements such as theme, author commentary or choices, overall character analysis, how literature reflects a time period, etc. in your analysis.

The CBSE Class 12 English Board Exam 2020 (Core & Elective) might be one of your easiest avenues to score high marks. In order to do this, students must prepare all the topics mentioned in the latest CBSE Class 12 English Syllabus 2019-20, practice with sample questions, especially how to write a descriptive essay for literary analysis.

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Shreyanjana is an archaeologist who ironically finds the written word to be the most powerful means of storytelling. A travel buff and a photography enthusiast, she has been writing and sharing stories of all sorts ever since she can remember.