English is a compulsory subject for students of all streams in Class 12 exams under the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in India. Contrary to popular belief, it also happens to be one of the easiest subjects to prepare and score well in. It can help you boost the overall percentage of your final CGPA if prepared well.

It is crucial for students to prepare in right earnest for all subjects. However, many students often neglect the subject of English, while they focus their attention on more mainstream disciplines such as Maths, Science, Social Science, Accountancy, Business Studies, Political Science, etc.

For starters, complete knowledge of the exam syllabus is of paramount importance.

Proficiency in English language and expertise in the literary analysis are essential skills that students need to acquire in order to excel in the Board examination. The CBSE exam dates are already out. So, put on your revision hats and follow these simple tips on how to formulate a systematic and well-planned strategy.  This can do wonders for your exam preparation and make a world of difference to your final exam score.

Find your Online English speaking course here.

all subjects
Every subject is important in the Board exam, as the cumulative score decides your final CGPA | Source: Clarissa Watson on Unsplash

Start with the Syllabus

Preparation starts with knowledge of the complete syllabus for CBSE Class 12 English. This helps students develop an idea of the topics that they need to study. A more in-depth analysis will further help them develop an understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses.

Based on this, they can give more weightage to topics that need greater effort on their part, while also keeping in mind the topics with higher weightage in the Board of Education syllabus. Once this is clear, a study plan can be chalked out easily.

Plan Your Study

Once the CBSE aspirants have gained knowledge of the syllabus, the revision plan can now become the focus of their attention. Here is how to go about it efficiently:

Topic-wise Marks Distribution

The CBSE exam paper design for English Core Class 12 carries a total of 100 marks, divided into the following sections of evaluation:

  1. Reading Comprehension - 30 marks
  2. Writing Skills - 30 marks
  3. Literature & Long Reading Text - 40 marks

A sample paper is available for free PDF download on a number of website portals. Don't forget to check them out for a better paper analysis. The format of the paper is discussed in detail in the following paragraphs.

Section A: Reading

Section A is designed to test the students' skills in comprehension, interpretation, and inference, along with vocabulary. This section contains two unseen passages with a variety of objective-type questions, including multiple-choice questions and short answer questions.

The total length of the first passages is typically 800 - 900 words. The passage can be any one of the following types:

  1. Factual passages, e.g., instructions, descriptions, reports.
  2. Descriptive passages involving opinion, e.g., argumentative, persuasive or interpretative text.
  3. Literary passages, e.g., extract from fiction, drama, poetry, essay or biography.

The second passage is usually 400-500 words long. This passage tests the note-making and abstraction abilities of the student.

Reading books
Extensive reading practice, not only of the prescribed textbooks, but also other materials, is a great source of enriching your English language skills | Source: Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Section B: Writing Skills

  1. Advertisements and notices, designing or drafting posters, writing formal and informal invitations and replies. Students have to answer any one of the two Short Answer Questions - 4 Marks
  2. Letters based on verbal/visual input. Students have to answer any one out of the two Long Answer Questions (120-150 words) - 6 Marks
    • Business or official letters
    • Letters to the editor
  3. Two compositions based on visual and/or verbal input. The answer could be descriptive or argumentative in nature, such as an article/a debate/ a speech or a report. Students have to answers two very Long Answer Questions with internal choices (150-200 words) - 20 marks

Section C: Literature

  1. 8 Objective Type Questions – 4 from one poetry and 4 from one prose extract to test comprehension and appreciation. (8 Marks)
  2. 5 out of 7 Short Answer Questions based on prose/drama/poetry from both texts (10 Marks)
  3. 1 out of 2 Long Answer Questions to be answered in 120-150 words to test global comprehension and extrapolation beyond the texts. (6marks) (Flamingo)
  4. 1 out of 2 Long Answer Questions to be answered in 120-150 words to test global comprehension along with analysis and extrapolation. (6marks) (Vistas)

English Reading Section Tips

Reading is the simplest section to solve, yet the most time-consuming of all the three sections in the English paper. It helps if students practice reading throughout the academic year. This will automatically result in increased reading speed. If answered correctly, students can score full marks in this section.

English Writing Section Tips

In the writing section, students have to write an essay, report, application or letter. To improve your writing skills, know the exact format and note down the points to be included in the essay.

Simple and short sentences can sometimes be the best tool for writing an essay that wins the reader over.

Your paragraphs should be small, not containing more than 3-4 sentences. Avoid using too many difficult words. Remember, you don't have to show off your strong vocabulary. Sometimes, it can work against you! Revise your writing to avoid making silly grammatical errors.

Practicing questions
Solve the same papers more than once to improve your chances of getting the answers right | Source: Lower Columbia College on Visual Hunt

Marking Scheme

Knowing the exam pattern helps in improving time management skills. Here is the English Class 12 summary of the exam paper:

Exam duration3 hours
Maximum marks100
Total number of questions39
Very short answer type questions1 marks
Short Answer I type questions2 marks
Long Answer I type questions5 marks
Long Answer II type questions6 marks
Very Long Answer type questions10 marks

Practice is Key

One of the best pro tips for CBSE Class 12 English preparation anyone can give you is to solve the CBSE 12th sample papers and previous year's question papers. Students should analyze their progress by solving these papers.

Self-assessment is often a great revision technique.

Mock tests also help students prepare themselves mentally for exam day. CBSE 12th previous year papers are available as free PDF on the official website of CBSE. Get the full PDF and start practicing today!

Select the Right Books

CBSE recommends the following textbooks prepared by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and Solutions for Class 12 CBSE English exam:

  • Kaleidoscope - Textbook published by NCERT
  • Fiction: A Tiger for Malgudi or The Financial Expert by R.K. Narayan (Novel) Fiction
  • Language Skills book - Class XII English Elective published by CBSE, Delhi.
  • Literature Reader - Class XII English Elective published by CBSE, Delhi.
  • Extended Reading Text (Either one)
    i) The Invisible Man (Unabridged) by H.G. Wells.
    ii) Silas Marner (Unabridged) by George Eliot.

Reference Books for CBSE Class 12 English Grammar

  1. Wren and Martin High School Grammar.
  2. A Practical Guide to English Grammar (Paperback) by K. P. Thakur.
  3. Silas Marner Class-12 1st Edition (Paperback) by K. S. Paul
  4. Lord of the Flies (Unabridged Edition) Prescribed for Class-12 as per the Latest CBSE Syllabus (Paperback) by William Golding.
spending time in Japan
Mock tests are a great way to help improve your time-management skills | Source: Visual Hunt

Manage Your Time Well

While practicing writing and taking the mock tests with the latest sample papers, in order to evaluate your progress, time yourself properly. Decide in advance how much time you want to allot to each section in your CBSE Class 12 English paper.

There are students who don’t finish their papers simply because they have run out of time.

Attempt the easier and shorter questions first, so that you have plenty of time to manage the longer ones. Also, make sure you have ample time for revising your answer script before you turn them in.

Revise Class Notes and NCERT Books

Each item from the prescribed chapter list in the textbooks and related class notes need to be pored over one last time, on the eve of the exam. For grammar, students can go through any refresher for quick revision. In English Class 12 CBSE Class 12 exam, students are evaluated on their ability to write error-free answers.

Reading the newspaper daily can be a useful way to enhance your grasp of English grammar and enrich your English vocabulary as you learn new English words. It will also help you to frame your sentences in a grammatically accurate way.

Do not shy away from seeking help from your teachers - private English tutors or online English lessons. Remember, you don't have to feel alone as you try your best in one of the most competitive exams in the country!

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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.