NEP 2020’s Proposed 5-3-3-4 System: What It Means for Schools

June 29, 2023 | By: Extramarks


Following the adoption of the global education development agenda in 2015, India is seeking to ensure inclusive and equitable education for all by 2030. Consequently, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), under the direction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, released the National New Education Policy on July 29, 2020 after approval by the Union Cabinet. 

What is the 5+3+3+4 Education System?

The new 5 3 3 4 education system aims at developing individuals with emphasis on cognitive capacities such as critical thinking and problem solving and building social, emotional and ethical abilities. This policy proposes to replace the existing 10+2 structure of school education with the 5 3 3 4 education system covering ages 3 to 18 and includes kindergarten/play school education as well under the formal education structure. 

Difference between the Traditional Model and the New Education Structure

While there is no change with respect to the number of school years in the NEP 5 3 3 4 system, there is a revision in the stages within them. Let us see a few comparative parameters between the old and the new.

National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) Schools System: 5+3+3+4 Education Structure

The classification of stages in the NEP 5 3 3 4 education system has been done based on the intellectual growth of a student. In the earlier model, the age group of 3 to 6 was not covered. However, in the 5 3 3 4 education system, a strong foundation of early childhood care and education has also included which is aimed at promoting play-based, activity-based, inquiry-based and flexible ways of learning. 

Source: National Education Policy 2020, MHRD, Government of India

The new 5 3 3 4 education system is broken into four stages:

1. Foundation stage (5 years): 3 years of pre-school and Classes 1 and 2 (ages 3 to 8)

Focus on play-based learning to develop cognitive, affective and psychomotor abilities, good behaviour, courtesy, teamwork, personal and public hygiene

2. Preparatory stage (3 years): Classes 3 to 5 (ages 8 to 11)

Incorporation of light text books and formal but interactive classroom learning to lay a solid base across subjects with focus on reading, writing, physical education, speaking, art, languages, mathematics and science

3. Middle stage (3 years): Classes 6 to 8 (ages 11 to 14)

Introduction of subject teachers for learning and discussion of abstract concepts across all subjects

Vocational education such as electric work, carpentry, metal work, gardening, pottery, etc., along with internships, based on students’ interest and local skilling needs identified by state governments 

4. Secondary stage (4 years): Classes 9 to 12 (ages 14 to 18)

Multidisciplinary study with greater depth and critical thinking, and flexibility to students for choice of subjects based on life aspirations 

Two phases – Phase 1 (Classes 9 and 10) and Phase 2 (Classes 11 and 12) with the option to exit the system after Phase 1 and re-enter at a later date

NEP 5+3+3+4 Classes and Exam Pattern

Let us come to the most important point, that is, assessments under the new policy… 

The new education policy aims at having regular and competency-based assessments rather than rote learning and summative assessments that create fear and pressure for students.

Changes prescribed in the NEP 5 3 3 4 system are given below. 

1. Focus on formative assessments: Assessments to be formative and competency based with a focus on testing higher order skills such as analysis, critical thinking and conceptual clarity

2. Revision in report cards: Report cards to be redesigned to capture progress as well as uniqueness of each student through self, peer and teacher assessment. Progress in cognitive, psychomotor, etc. domains to be captured through quizzes, role plays, group work and interactive questionnaires for students, teachers and parents

3. School examinations up to middle stage: All students to take examinations at class 3, 5 and 8, that will track progress and achievement of basic learning outcomes; grade 3 examination to test basic literacy, numeracy and foundational skills

4. Board examinations at secondary stage: These may be taken twice at the secondary stage, one main and one improvement exam, thus reducing exam pressure and offering flexibility. Subjects could be offered at two levels, standard and higher, based on intelligence and competency of students, in addition to availability of choice of subjects

5. PARAKH, a nodal assessment body: Creation of a national assessment centre, PARAKH (Performance Assessment, Review and Analysis of Knowledge for Holistic development) for setting norms, benchmarks and standards for assessments and evaluation of all recognised school boards. PARAKH to also monitor learning outcome achievement throughout the country and provide guidance to school boards to create evaluation criteria 

Benefits of the 5+3+3+4 Education System in India

1. Addition of pre-school to the school system: Early childhood care and education plays a very important role in setting a child’s foundation and developing its future. Inclusion of pre-school under the formal education system will help in keeping checks on the initial developmental level of children, along with ensuring higher enrolment rate

2. Fewer examinations until middle school: Holistic testing of achievement of basic learning outcomes would be achieved through school examination at classes 3, 5 and 8

3. Extracurricular learning: Vocational courses, along with internships, will be offered class 6 onward, across fun and extracurricular activities, to give students practical knowledge and an additional competency

4. Multidisciplinary learning: Choice of subjects is proposed to be made available at the secondary stage, along with multidisciplinary learning, to help with a direction for higher education

5. Flexibility in secondary education: Students will have the option to leave the system at the end of class 10 and return at a later time, thus aiding decision-making with respect to choice of subjects and higher education

6. Well-rounded and complete assessments: The policy focuses on formative and holistic assessment to reduce exam-related pressure and fear among students; it is proposed that board exams test application of obtained knowledge in practical situations instead of memory-based learning

How is Extramarks Aligned With NEP 2020?

The primary objective of implementing the NEP 2020 is to make education universally accessible from primary to secondary level. Moreover, there is a key emphasis on the usage of technology to propel accessibility and enable experiential learning. Here’s where Extramarks shines! It makes for the perfect academic teaching-learning platform that uses innovative technologies to drive engagement and boost accessibility. Empowering students with a holistic learning experience, Smart Class Plus offers rich animated lessons across all boards, classes and subjects. 

It provides access to cutting-edge solutions ranging from interactive digital content to real-time polls, chat rooms and recorded lessons. Besides this, active learning features like chapter-based prompts is a sure shot way to assess learner’s understanding in real-time. It also gives teachers an insight into a students’ progress and helps them curate a study plan based on their learning needs. This inturn enables a greater emphasis on formative assessment. With access to such fun and dynamic features, Extramarks Smart Class Plus perfectly aligns with the core principles of what NEP 2020 stands for. 

For more information on its revolutionary features, check out our blog on Extramarks Smart Class Plus: The plus that powers new-age classrooms


To conclude, the NEP 2020 addresses multiple problem-areas across educational institutions that require improvement. There is a core focus on enabling holistic development of students based on clarity of concepts and application of knowledge. If you’re looking for an academic platform that aligns with the vision of NEP 2020, Extramarks Smart Class Plus is the perfect learning partner. 


Q. Where can I find the National Education Policy 2020?

Ans: The policy is available on the official website of the Ministry of Education (formerly known as MHRD), Government of India. Following is the link for the same.

Q. When will the new education policy 2020 come into effect? 

Ans: State governments have freedom with respect to timeline and extent of implementation of the policy – so far, it is effective in Karnataka, Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Telangana, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan are currently in the process of implementation.

Q. To which boards in India is the NEP 5 3 3 4 applicable?

Ans: The new education policy 2020 may be adopted by all recognised boards in India, including CBSE, state boards, ICSE, ISC, etc.

Last Updated on September 1, 2023

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