How important is one’s class 12 result ?

By May 17, 2015 23 Comments

Saimantick exclaimed, “It’s the 18th that I dread. Not anything else. ISC results are going to be out.” I laughed at it explaining to him how scared I was during this phase, back in 2007. He told me he might get a seventy something percentage. He had a grim face with perhaps the palest eyes, staring at me. Not many months ago did I ask him to study hard and study economics in either Presidency or in Delhi University. Now I know that he is not interested in Economics, but in photography/designing.

I asked myself, “What would change if he does not get a 90%?”

It is wonderful to see how most of our parents and the society around, have created a make belief world for us, where we as children are made to believe, the world might just end if we score badly. For a few, not getting “science” in class 11 is family’s shame. For a few, not cracking IIT JEE is worse than ending their lives. I was one of them who craved for IIT and failed to qualify. My life did not stop and by the grace of God, I earn enough to make ends meet.

There were times when I scolded Avishek Rakshit (CBS, Batch 2014) very heartlessly asking him to study and live up to the 95% he got in his class 10 boards. At times, I even asked Rimbik (SPMS, Batch 2013) to balance his passion with studies, and pursue engineering like his parents wished. Now why did I ask them to? May be I thought they would not get admission to good colleges or perhaps in the future, not earn much. That is what most of us in middle class society think of. As a friend who is elder to them, there was a sense of apprehension. I can only imagine how tense the parents would be. But somewhere beyond the apprehension is a belief, a belief in their aspirations.

You know what? Rakshit who scored lower than 80% in his ISC, took the admission test and qualified for economics honours for Ramkrishna Mission Residential college which is now ranked third nationally in the NAAC list. Rimbik, who was adamant to follow his passion is now is student of St. Xaviers, Kolkata. Today, I see them happy and smiling. That is satisfying enough.

So how important is one’s class 12 result?  

We do not tattoo our class 12 marks on our foreheads. Do we? The first thing a stranger notices in a person is one’s behaviour. The stranger could be your future manager, future client or future wife as well.

That is perhaps why during the engineering placements, different multinational companies want a mere 60% in class 10 and class 12 board results. The student has to pass a separate aptitude examination and then clear the interview.

Not only companies, many colleges like St Xaviers, Symbiosis, BIT and their likes, have their different entrance examinations.

If tomorrow I lead a team, what are the qualities would I be looking for while searching a team mate? Good behavioural and presentation skills, common sense, sincerity, ability to work in a team, sense of empathy towards other members and slightly more importantly, his interest in the work.

According to me, what does class 12 result signify?

To discuss whether we should judge a dolphin by its tree climbing skills is beyond the scope of this blog post.  But yes, class 12 scores signify a very simple thing – It quantifies the level of sincerity and responsibility of a student, to achieve what he is supposed to, even if he does not like it. They acquire skills easily, which contributes to the organisation that recruit them. I am not sure what percentage of top engineering graduates become entrepreneurs or are happy with their job profiles.

Let’s stop generalising

In this current Indian education system, what it fails to gauge is the implementation skills of the student, neither does it say anything about innovation and team management skills. I’ve personally known students who got over 85% in their ISC (year 2007) but does not know how to switch a computer on. I’ve known students who got over 90% in their class 12 boards who were arrogant and looked down upon people. I’ve also personally known a MBA student from one of the leading colleges in the region who prioritises going on dates over very important team meetings.

When I say all these, I do not mean the good scorers are bad people. 3 of the very few people who are extremely close to me – Surya, Arjyak got over 94% in their ISC. Souranil got over 95% in his ICSE results.

To generalise and to form an impression of a person based on the marks he gets in his class 12 examinations should be stopped. I appeal to my readers to think about it once. Today I speak as a failed marks scorer, but a happy elder brother.

This is a new beginning whatever you score!

If you are pursuing a creative field, UI/UX, Computer science – every day is a new beginning for us. Each single day there is something to learn, something to innovate and some problem to solve. Whichever college you go to, if you do not continually learn and keep innovating, even the best of scores or the bests of colleges could help you. The internet is the biggest resource.

I do not have much idea about B.Com/BBA. But I believe a student should aim colleges which have good professors, because they are the ones who would share their experiences with you for you to learn and would refer you for intern ships. For CA examinations, you can appear for CPT even if you get a 60% in class 12 examinations.

The elders should NOT force young minds. 

A student cracked Computer Science Engineering in NIT Dgp (not verified), but his parents insisted he takes up Computer Science honours in Scottish Church College, Kolkata. A kid who had always dreamt of making and programming robots studied Electronics and Communication in one of the leading private college in Kolkata. He was made to appear for AIEEE, again the next year. Now he studies Biotechnology in NIT Durgapur. Another kid who could have got into some college in Kolkata, purposefully chose a college in Durgapur, a college he had no clue about till the day of counselling. He did not simply want to face his father back at home.

Well, ahem. After you join an MNC, if you see differences in the world you thought that would be and the world that is, trust me, you’d think twice. Most of our “career choices”, specially of the science students, that are supposedly taken by students are imposed by their parents. A huge number of engineers pursue MBA slightly after their graduation. While a few others change their profession to something their heart wishes.

You never know what you’ll end up doing to earn your bread. Now you can only contemplate.

Let me share something that hurt me.

could not get science in class 11

This is sent to me by a student who could not get Science in class 11.


So how does the others feel about class 12 results? 

Diptoman Mukherjee (Entrepreneur, BESU passout):

I could not apply to JU science because of those marks, which probably would be bad news for people intending to go in there.

On the other hand none of that had any effect on my future whatsoever because my stream is completely different and mostly portfolio based.

… Honestly, if I could go back in time, would I advise my younger self to study (a little bit) more to maintain decent marks/CGPA? Yes. Absolutely. Because frankly speaking – at that point of time I did not know what I wanted to be in life, and having good grades as backup would have boosted my confidence and kept my arrogance (the arrogance of despising people “in the system”) in check back then, if nothing else.

Suprit Patra (Entrepreneur):

Very important if you want to get the new iPhone or Xbox (from your parents)

Shreya Gupta (HR, Tata Steel):

We put a lot of emphasis on the academic record of a person, … and we often come across people with mediocre grades, coming from mediocre colleges doing great professionally.

Still… To be on the safer is always better to have a good academic record. It helps!

Kushal Das (Entrepreneur, Python expert):

(It does not matter) unless you want to study more!

Preeti Roychoudhury (Teacher, Loreto House):

The marks are important because they determine the direction your life will take- not just academically but also the college you will go to, the friends you will meet, the experiences you will have. Otherwise it’s just printed paper , incapable of reflecting the person you are smile emoticon It never reveals you!

Arjun Singha (MNC Manager):

It depends upon the time frame you are considering / thinking of. For me till the age of 25-26 it mattered. But now it doesn’t.

Ratnaboli Bose (Founder, Daricha Foundation, Mother of two successful photographers)

If the system is important to you and you want to stay within it – then your kids are in for a hard time. but the system never was, to me. i encouraged my kids to do their best, did not wring out their backsides at tuitions… no, I don’t think top marks assure you a great life ahead. and isn’t our education system here all bull anyway… and its gotten even worse when I last checked.

Chandril Chakraborty (HR, Capgemini):

It’s all about market competitiveness. India, so to say, has a great talent pool. To apply method of elimination, you need to have benchmarks. Usually high scores at exams helps an organisation to set the bar high to evaluate candidates and filter them through. in this respect, good scores yield better outcome. Other than this, from work & performance perspective, it hardly makes impact.

Abhishek Rungta (CEO, Indusnet Technologies):

For the next step and getting admission in college. Nothing beyond it. .. I do not care (about the college name). But yes good college attracts first.

Mohua Roy (Career counsellor) :

But the truth is people who are mediocre, obedient and can take a lot of pressure are the ones who prove to be valuable for the companies. Academically brilliant often suffer from career frustration after the initial honeymoon is over.

You can find more responses in this link and you should join the conversation as well here.


Parting thoughts:

Nothing matters except for your good behaviour, willingness to continually learn, sincerity.

I say this with the basic assumption that you would get minimum 60% in your class 12 boards. That's a bare minimum for a healthy living. If you are in the creative field, there is enough opportunities. However much you might score, remember - everyday is a new day and perhaps, a new start.
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About Anirban

I'm now a student of MS in Data and Knowledge Engineering, in Otto-von-Guericke Universitat Magdeburg, in Germany. I like exploring newer places and their culture. Stay connected on the social media.

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I'm now a student of MS in Data and Knowledge Engineering, in Otto-von-Guericke Universitat Magdeburg, in Germany. I like exploring newer places and their culture. Stay connected on the social media.


  • Soupayan Dutta says:

    Class 12 marks is necessary only if you have a dream college !!
    Or else take a chill pill mate.. !!
    Yes score a presentable marks and let the society bark !!

    • Pramit says:

      We study to keep our faces in society. We have lost passion for subjects. We study to earn money. What is the point of getting 90- 99% if you don’t have passion???

  • Rupsha Bhadra says:

    Although I’m perhaps too young to comment, but I totally agree with whatever you have written. I had taken up science partly because my parents wanted me to and partly because I was unsure at all. It was after that, when I realised that this isn’t my cup of tea at all. I hated the subjects but it was really too late. In a way, it was important, because I would have never been sure otherwise. I scraped through ISC with just about above average marks and am glad I dont have to study science ever again. But thankfully enough, I love the subject that I’m studying now, am doing pretty well in college exams and studying doesn’t seem like a burden anymore. (well, mostly :P).
    With lesser than a day to go for ISC and ICSE results to be published, this was a much necessary post.

  • Rohit Shrivastava says:

    First of all, kudos for picking up a nice and meaningful subject. Anirban in my opinion class12 marks have very less significance in your life. I have even seen people not gettin 60% and then doing a decent job and having a nice own cousin is a fine example of that. At the same time I also think that parents and elders must judge their wards based on their marks not on how high or low their score is but on the criteria “why the score is high or low” is it because the child is weak,or lack of guidance or is it because he has other passions or interest. Whatever may b the cause must be accepted with open heart. At the same time if it’s because the kid did not study or was in bad company then he/she deserves a different kind of care afterall habits may become addiction so that is a different scenario.
    in the end the kid must be told one thing that in life nothing can be achieved by casual behavior if he needs anything he will have to work day and night for it whether it be IIT, MBA,IAS or creative lines like photography or painting.One must ensure that the kid finds his passion by now.there is no harm in failing once or twice but the pursuit to achieve what you want must always b honest. If a person learns to work with dedication and discipline towards the aim he has in life, then never mind his score for he has passed with flying colours in the test of life.

  • Avishek Rakshit says:

    I remember the day my ISC results were declared, I went to meet Anirban Da after that.
    Was I disappointed with my score? Yes, I was. It was my dream as well to study Economics at Delhi University.
    Anirban Da was pissed at me. I had perhaps let a lot of people including him down.
    I remember feeling numb for quite some time. I did not know where to go from there. I knew I wanted to study Economics Honours and I was ready to study it in even the worst college in the country. Me scoring very poor meant that the only two good colleges that I could still consider were Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandir, Belur and Ramakrishna Mission Residential College, Narendrapur.
    However, cracking the entrance exam and the viva was not an easy thing to do either. I was low on confidence. But at the same time, I had faith in myself.
    Now almost a year later, I am studying Economics Honours at Ramakrishna Mission Residential College, Narendrapur. I think good board marks help you get a college the easy way. It is nothing more than that. It doesn’t define your life. You define yourself. If you screw up, don’t stop believing. Have faith in yourself. It’ll pay off.
    This blogpost brings back so many memories of what I went through exactly one year back today.

  • Like I told you, on a very personal note I completely understand from where this discourse is coming. That our ICSE and our ISC percentages unfortunately define our lives at an age that’s rather impressionable is something that parents and teachers, and society as a whole need to understand. To tell a child that he or she is ‘worthless’ (as I was called), for not achieving the required scores is what is a step toward killing a child. This does not however, mean that the importance of academics needn’t be stressed upon.
    I remember walking into St Xavier’s College and being told by their Vice Principal, “You want to study English here? With those marks?” I remember asking him what my scores in Economics had to do with my desire to pursue English – something that I’d done exceedingly well in.

    Secondly, how reliable are these exams anyway if all they evaluate is your ability to mug up information only to forget everything minutes after the final bell? I think I took back far more from my Economics teacher in terms of values than knowing what Price Index is. I understand that that is important, but that cannot be the be all and end all of it.

    I had a batch-mate who went on to study at SRCC in New Delhi. He had topped the exams in our school and had scored the highest percentage in English – 97%. I was 2% short of his scores. He misspelt ‘believe’ in an update on Facebook celebrating his scores. The defense rests, Your Honour. 🙂

  • Good marks in ISC is a way to avoid negative social comments, especially from those people who are ready to find an opportunity and criticise you.

    It’s necessary to get into certain colleges like Xavier’s. Xavier’s was a dream to me. One of the prime reasons I wanted to avoid engineering. Studying “pure” computer science in At. Xavier’s college.

    I don’t wish to insult Xavierians, but I dislike their admission system. I could not make it for half marks and frankly, it did sadden me. Now, however, I feel blessed that I did not get admitted into Xavier’s, simply because what I got was better, according to me.

    ISC marks to me are simply a social status symbol. Because the finest colleges (no offence) offer admission tests, and like you said, they don’t judge a dolphin by their tree climbing skills 🙂

  • Ronit Roy says:

    Perception of board marks are a perfect example of hypocrisy. If a student gets 90%, he or she is automatically assumed to study science. Whereas I know many people who scored above 90% and are pursuing different fields. Also, students become so engrossed in scoring well, they fail to enjoy an unique experience – high school. This is worsened by the feeling of competition. It is not enough to score above 90%. You have to score above your fellow competitors. This race to the finish line has completely eradicated the values in the education system is the primary reason for introduction of mugging and lack of application in the field. When one’s aptitude in computer science is measured by his ability to score marks in chemistry, it really defies logic. This reaction is however extended to your college selection and the field itself. This extension is actually harming this generation rather than helping it.

  • Pranab says:

    Good to see you writing on such issues! As someone who got across the marks usually viewed as the “socially acceptable norms” (and then some!), let me assure you, beyond bragging rights, my 12th class marks have not been very useful. And, when I look back to that one day wonder over a decade ago, it has paled away in my memory. What it has done, is helped me create a “career narrative”, one which fits in with my profile as an academic physician. A 60% mark would be a jolt in a career otherwise speaking of higher grades, and would attract unwanted attention (but then again, till date, in all of the interviews and career stuff that I have forayed into, I did not need to mention my 12th class marks: I just mentioned them anyway because they were pretty!). Unfortunately, nowadays, I see people running after marks in the exam because in the Delhi University admissions, the cut-offs are INSANELY high!

    At the end of the day, I believe that marks are but one measure of our intellectual capabilities, and not a very good one at that either. So, do what you will, society wants you score high, but I guess if you’re a high scoring student without the requisite skills, you’re pretty useless in the real world setting.

    Reminds me of T.S. Eliot’s poem:
    Where is the Life we have lost in living?
    Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
    Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
    The cycles of Heaven in twenty centuries
    Brings us farther from God and nearer to the Dust.

    Apologies for such a long comment…

  • Rajarshi says:

    Being a B-school aspirant(joining an IIM this year) and not having good ISC marks myself, what I can only say is to get into a top B school(specifically the IIMs) you need very good board marks. The top B-school’s claim that people who have been academically consistent throughout their lives have better chances at becoming good managers. My interpretation of this is that they believe its easier to place people/get people jobs, those who have been good throughout their academic careers at top notch MNC’s. This system of using board marks for elimination of aspirants is a norm in most selection processes in India. So what I would say is to be successful in this country and to gain access to better avenues, you ought to have a good board score.. An average or below average score will only make it tougher..
    There are always exceptions. People get spurred on by their passion no matter what. But for that one exception, there are thousands and lacs of other failure stories. So even though I would like to agree with your viewpoint ideally but in India it’s all just an eye-wash. Unless the system and society here changes drastically.

  • Souryadeep Basak says:

    If you want to get into Stephen’s, DU or JU with honours, yes it does. If you want to go for engineering to an NIT, yes it does. If you want to go for medical no it doesn’t.

    Most importantly if you’ve worked for your boards for two longs years it most definitely does. I don’t judge people who get less marks, but I found your blog to be a little partial towards those who performed below par. I agree that one examination does not reserve the capacity to determine one’s aptitude holistically. However, it doesn’t take away the hard work and dedication that the guys at the top put in.

    Just my humble opinion.

  • Mohua Roy says:

    1.Gifted abd academically brilliant.
    2. Gifted but no brilliance in academics.
    3. Academically brilliant
    4. Not gifted nor brilliant.
    A SMART goal and target for high marks are generally set for Catagory 2&4. The main cause being our venerated band of HRswhose first scan is on CV and not a F2F interview. People who talk about marks not being important are either the ones who have acclaimed academic pedegree or have made it good with sheer hard work. But this goal is generally for those who do not have any focus or most of the time do not know what they will do in future. Scoring well is the safety shield they must carry in the face of uncertainties. Our system is critised and wrong but the main question is ‘Can anyone stay out of this system?’ What is the alternative?

  • Rahul Poddar says:

    In midst of scoring more and more, somewhere down the line i think we’re loosing what should have been our greatest priority,to learn something to get the bases strong, not just because we need to score but because we’re here to learn for knowledge.
    I’ve been to places where people are taught how to score more and more, not how to retain and implement what you’ve learnt, it’s really sad for the kind of society we’re growing up in.

  • if you have confidence, you will always find a way to win. . .

  • ShilpI Mukherjee says:

    I think that the way the society is presently structured , 12 marks does matter to the extent that it gives you a leverage , and it makes the assessing and judging process way too easier without actually having to devote time to find out about a person. As a student of economics, I can partly see how this set-up has evolved as the dominant paradigm. But, having said that , I earnestly, emphatically feel that one result , one exam , two digits CANNOT tell me what a person is , and what he is capable of doing . so, for somebody who knows his/her goals, priorities and is ready to sweat it out , marks don’t matter. But sadly that kind of determination and grit is difficult to sustain in the midst of constant humiliation . So, probably 12 marks are not that important for the brave ,or for the faint hearted to grow up to be brave .
    Also, I personally have a criticism against the board results , because I have seen a lot of deserving, hard-working students score much below than what the should have ,and some very underprepared students get astoundingly good marks. A friend of mine from a very reputed school in Kolkata had told me that she has left 6 marks in Maths and went on to score 97. On that grounds I feel , board results are stupid and unfairly so.

  • Abhisek Kundu says:

    It is in the pure science/humanities streams where the marks play an important part, clubbed with the student’s performance in the respective admission tests.
    Being in the engineering line, other than clearing the 60% cutoff, my CBSE score have barely mattered anywhere except getting some praises and a copy of Gitanjali (thank you KMC!)
    Considering jobs, only a handful of companies seem to refer to the boards’ marks for their selection procedure.

    The worst part is in the present day educational system. It forces the student to study solely for the sake of getting a good score, and the present day makes sure to look down upon him if he fails to achieve that. That, Anirban da, is the epicenter of all the woes regarding marks, grades, and eventually, social statuses.

    • Apoorva says:

      Listen on being a meritorious student till class 10th..I wasnt able to score good in 12..If I want to pursue my career in engineering..Does the board% really matter during placements in MNC’s

  • The post is very good and inspirational.. I liked a lot!!..

  • Anirban da , please visit my blog and read my new blog post at

  • It might not be necessary to earn a 90% or 80% marks in 12th however a decent score of 70-75% is important. The reason lies behind the speech of Steve Job – “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future”.

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