Category Archives: Competitive Exams

ADIEU JEE ?

“It must be a dream” –these were the first words I said after reading that particular article in the newspaper. But after being pinched really hard by my friend, OUCH, I realized that I was just being overly optimistic by considering the proposal of scrapping JEE just another political gimmick and a plan which shall never see the light of the day . But I was wrong,nay , many students were being wronged .IIT JEE was going to be replaced, the legend will no longer continue! I had to shove the truth down my throat and that was definitely one of the toughest thing I have ever had to do.
So here was the deal, a new test was being proposed, with weightage to board marks, and two exams-JEE main and JEE advanced. While the reasons given for the above proposal-that students are under too much stress due to multiple entrance exams and that coaching classes are mushrooming –are very much real and as such definitely demand focused attention and remedial steps, the solution that has been offered hasn’t really been accepted as a fair one and has sparked off a nation wide debate .
Are too many examinations really that bad ? well most people think otherwise. The fact that the number of students attempting to give the IITJEE is almost the half the number that give the AIEEE,is a very clear indication of student’s selectivity of the exam that best suits them. When a student has multiple chances of proving himself , that actually makes him less mentally stressed because he knows that his chances of success do not merely depend on one day and that its not a “do or die” situation for him. What if some unforeseen calamity prevents a student from fully performing at the D-DAY,does that mean his one year is wasted ? Can this be fair to any student ? One exam system hasn’t been proved a very successful method of alleviating student stress. The GaoKao of China is one such example. The entire fate of the student is based on one single day. The exam has such hype around it that most students find it unable to deal with. Behaviors surrounding the testing period have been extreme under some reports. Testing pressure, for some critics, has been linked to faintings, increased drop out rates, and even increasing rates of teenage clinical depression and suicides in China .That is exactly not the kind of situation which would deem very desirable.
And turning to the second issue-the ever increasing coaching industry-I hardly feel that the new format will be able to put an end to them for good. The reason why students flock to these institutes is because they find it hard to balance their studies and manage their schedules. They resort to them so that the risk of uncertainty in their preparation is reduced. Now given that there will be three criterion for selection to IITs now, the institutes will now offer a package which shall “ guarantee” success in all three domains. Their business will not slow down , but rather multiply by feeding on the increased aspirations from students to perform well in three quarters. So this problem will still remain unsolved even if the new test comes to effect.
One of the most debatable and attacked point of the new proposal has been the inclusion of the board marks. While normalization of marks through all the state boards and the national boards might be a theoretical possibility, this is still plagued by the very reason the board exams were considered only as an eligibility criterion. The level of all boards is not even. The widespread copying makes it an unreliable test for a student’s capacity. The board exams have since ages only tested rote learning and ability to impress the examiner with your answers, and never your actual grasp on the subject. The internal exam marks? Don’t even get me started on that ! All these reasons make board exam marks consideration a very debatable step which has met with criticism from all possible sources.
With these many queries, doubts and uncertainty lingering around the new proposal, I sincerely believed that it must be given enough time and reconsideration and shouldn’t be forced upon the students without their consent .Hope that one of these days shall bring the happy tidings of the JEE being restored. If not, I can only say ,brace yourselves, ISEET is coming !

Single or multiple tests? Debate continues

Consternation among students as IITs reject national CET and State favours it

The turbulence over the proposed national Common Entrance Test (CET) for admission to undergraduate engineering courses, with the top IITs wanting to pull out from it, has had a ripple effect on all stakeholders.

Students, parents and lecturers are anxiously looking forward for further clarity on the issue from the government’s end.

Many people are sore over the fact that the entrance test for IIT is likely to be merged with the entrance tests for all centrally-funded institutes. The State evincing interest to be part of a national entrance exam for undergraduate engineering courses has only added to the confusion.

While on the one hand, aspirants fear dilution in standards of the exam for IIT, on the other those appearing for CET next year are at sea as to how to proceed with their preparation.

Suhas M, a student of RV PU College who secured rank 4 in CET, feels the IITs should be left untouched.

“If the syllabus is diluted, it will be a disappointment for top achievers. Though one exam for all institutes might take the pressure off students, the IITs have their name because of the quality of education offered and this should not be meddled with.”

Somesh Bhatia, the rank 4 in Comed-K who has also qualified for the IIT this year, feels that there could be one entrance exam, with the IITs conducting an advanced exam after the preliminary entrance.

His peer Shreyas Udupa, who has cleared the IIT-JEE this year, says that one exam deprives the students of opportunities to improve.

“I took many entrance tests this time. If I did not perform to my satisfaction in one, I had the opportunity of doing better in another.”

While these opinions of the toppers mirror those of IIT aspirants, those who are currently studying II PU and are preparing for CET are faced with a different problem. A majority of the colleges and tutorials train students for CET from I PUC itself and a change in the system at this juncture can create problems.

The IITs have been in existence for nearly five decades and they must be given autonomy to decide the exam procedure, opines H S Nagaraj, founder director of BASE. The discussion is not just about having a single or multiple entrance exams.

The standard of the exam is more important. It will be better if the government gives itself and the students some time.

“The State’s CET is one of the best which other states have emulated. There is no need for scrapping it in a hurry,” Nagaraj says.

Dr Sridhar of ACE Creative Learning agrees. “CET in Karnataka has set a benchmark for entrance tests with its transparency. Why is it being taken out?” he asks, adding that the point of having multiple exams is to cater to all learning capabilities and increasing the opportunities for students.

“There could be three entrance tests, one for the IIT and NITs, two other in gradation of easy and middle difficulty levels.”

In response to the several doubts expressed about the proposed exam, Secretary to the Department of Higher Education, Siddaiah, told Deccan Herald that the government was working towards providing clarity and the specifications would be ready within a week after which it would be communicated to the colleges.

 [This article was originally published on Bangalore, Jun 11, 2012, DHNS]

IIT-Kanpur rejects CET proposal, plans its own exam

IIT-Kanpur has decided to go its own way on how it picks students from the next academic year. The institute Friday shot down the IIT council’s proposal of a common entrance test for all centrally-funded engineering institutes and announced its own exam.

 

A resolution to this effect was passed unanimously at IIT-Kanpur’s special senate meeting attended by around 80 members. The admission committee for the exam would be announced shortly.

“In the interest of students, we have decided to hold a separate exam. We will not be part of the joint test proposed by the IIT council in 2013,” said Dr YN Mohapatra, spokesperson, IIT-Kanpur senate, adding that the rules gave IIT senates the right to decide their admission process and syllabi.

 

While Dr Mohapatra invited other IITs to follow in Kanpur’s footsteps, there was no immediate support. IIT-Bombay director Devang Khakhar said there were no plans of holding a separate test like Kanpur.

 

“We will go with the decision of our own senate on the issue,” said IIT-Delhi director RK Shevgaonkar.

 

HRD minister Kapil Sibal could not be reached for comment.

 

If the move comes about, this would be the first time an IIT would not be a part of the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE). The IIT-Kanpur Students’ Forum had criticised the single entrance test format for all engineering admissions, saying it would put students under greater stress.

[This article was originally posted on Hindustan Times, 09 Jun 2012]

IIT JEE 2013 AMELIORATION

Advisory Board (JAB) is likely to make changes in the current IIT-JEE pattern from 2013. The ministry plans to hold a new exam, Indian Science Engineering Eligibility Test (ISEET) replacing the two existing IIT-JEE and AIEEE exams. It will be designed by ISI Kolkata and the Ramasami Committee and is planned as a SAT-type test. It is likely to be held online from 2014. The paper test is supposed to stay on until the online system stabilizes. It will be responsible for admission in engineering and science courses in institutes like 15 IITs, 30 NITs and other prestigious technical institutes.

Summary of how the proposed JEE will look like:

  1. 1.     One Entrance Test for all centrally funded engineering institutions.

A common aptitude-cum-advanced knowledge test, ISEET, will replace the IIT JEE and AIEEE in 2013.

  1. 2.     The exam will be conducted twice in a year.

The Human Resource and Development ministry has said that the exam which is conducted in April will have a second edition in November or December.

  1. 3.     The percentile for JEE will consider one language subject for eligibility.

Another change that is bound to bowl out the students appearing for JEE is that the percentile which is considered for the eligibility will also include one language subject.

  1. 4.     Consideration of class 12th result for JEE.

The school board marks will have 40 per cent weight in deciding admissions, thereby reducing the test scores weightage to 60 per cent only.

  1. 5.     JEE will consist of two papers.

There will be one main paper (30 per cent) for simple aptitude testing to assess scholastic levels, and one advanced paper (30 per cent) for each subject. Students will sit for the main paper in the morning and advanced in the afternoon.

  1. 6.     Students will be given a special rank.

A rank provided by the Centrally Funded Technical Institutions (CFTI) will be given to students according to Class 12 results, main paper and advanced paper. Students will receive individual marks for each section.

  1. Students will have to submit two separate application forms.

Students will have to submit an application form for JEE and another to the institutes that they want to apply to.

 

Consequences

ISEET has some inevitable outcomes-

The proposal of conduction of exam twice in a year is expedient because a student who scored badly in April can appear for the second exam when it happens. This will also mean that the admission process for IITs and other central-funded institutes have to be conducted again after the initial admissions in June. The institutions are not too happy with the idea of two admission seasons in the same year as it may disrupt their schedule.

It is good that class 12 marks are given some importance. Faculty from the IITs felt the new exam could make it easier for weaker students to gain entry to the IITs. They also feel that giving 40 percentage weightage to class 12th exam is unfair as different boards have different standards. Competition among states to send more of their students to IIT will be increased, for which they will facilitate scoring through easy exams lenient checking.

The idea of inclusion of a language subject appears to be excellent as many students neglect them to concentrate on their Physics, Chemistry and Maths group to gain an entry into IIT even though language skills are important in career. But the Students are not exactly pleased with this inclusion because this will hamper their studies and they will have to study the language subject which may bring down their percentile score.

The aim behind such a reformation could be to promote more brilliant students but it will put more stress on students. Now they will have a three tire exam (boards plus Aptitude plus Knowledge Test) and pressure of excelling at each level.  Thus, the study hours of students will be increased thereby affecting the overall health, brain stress, eyesight and other social and cultural activities of students.

The proposal is economically unviable for now a student will run to more number of coaching to do well in aptitude test too. In the shade of multi-directional development of students which is always good for achieving goals of practical life, the coaching will flourish more mostly in rural parts with a hidden agenda of earning more by fake promises of overall development of students as required.

The new pattern increases the entry of students of metropolitan city. These students have good environment to develop the aptitude skill and English proficiency. The students of rural areas and middle city are normally weak in this field.

There will be an increase in organised corruption at school/college level, who would like more of their students to qualify the entrance exam by scoring more in board exams by malpractice and it will be impossible to control because of the fact that board exams are conducted at millions of centres in India. The real intelligent aspirants will certainly lag behind if many students with forged marks come up. Moreover, since the answer sheets of board exams are evaluated manually so it becomes difficult to achieve uniformity in marks given by two different examiners for the same solution. Huge number of court cases to bring a stay on ISEET from parent and students as they will feel cheated due to copying paper leaks.

Most states expressed appreciation for the new format and said they would use it for admission to their engineering colleges, but Tamil Nadu had reservations. The state gives 100 per cent weightage to school board scores and intends to continue doing so. Bengal, Orissa, Himachal Pradesh and Pondicherry have sought more time to look into the proposal.

Online counselling for admission in IITs goes on

counseling 2012Counselling for admission to 15 IITs and IT-BHU and ISM-Dhanbad is underway these days and the students who cracked the JEE-2012 are participating in it. The counselling website had been opened for the shortlisted candidates from May 18, giving them a chance to fill their choice of courses. The online counselling would go on till 5pm on June 10. The candidates have not been asked to report in person for counselling.

All candidates with physical disability will have to report in person at the counselling institutes for a checkup before a specially constituted medical board. The IITs have asked such candidates to register for medical examination and chose the IIT where they wish to be examined.

For the convenience of such candidates, medical boards are constituted at IIT-Kanpur, IIT-Kharagpur, IIT-Bombay, IIT-Delhi, IIT-Guwahati and IIT-Madras.

The web release of the first seat allotment will be made on June 14. Seats not accepted in the first round will be allotted on AIR basis. The second seat round of allotment will be released on June 25. The third and the final round of allotment will be done on July 6.

For the first time, the candidates were given an opportunity to withdraw the accepted seat before the final round of seat allotment.

This year, 4,79,651 candidates had appeared in both the papers of IIT-JEE which was conducted by seven IITs on April 8. Out of the total number of candidates, 24,112 have secured ranks in various categories and 17,462 have been shortlisted for counselling for admission to 9,647 seats in 15 IITs and IT-BHU and ISM- Dhanbad.

Nishit Agrawal of IIT-Bombay zone bagged AIR 6 and topped his zone, Arpit Agrawal secured AIR 1 and emerged as the topper. Rohit Kumar and Shubham Chandak of IIT-Guwahati and IIT-Kanpur zone topped their zones. Rohit secured AIR 79 and Shubham bagged AIR 15.

The toppers of IIT-Kharagpur and IIT-Madras zone were Nishanth N Koushik with AIR 3 and Rumandla Nishanth with AIR 4.

Bijoy Singh Kochar of IIT-Roorkee zone topped his zone and bagged AIR 2 in JEE-2012.

In the categories, Rumandla Nishanth topped the OBC category. Zubin Arya, a resident of Kanpur topped the SC category in the country. Vikas Meena (AIR 642) and Khushboo Gupta (AIR 239) topped the ST and PD categories respectively.

In the OBC and SC categories, 4805 and 3464 candidates have been shortlisted for counselling. In SC and PD categories, 1,112 and 167 candidates have been shortlisted for counselling.

[This article was originally published on Times of India.]

IITs pitch for subjective JEE to improve student quality

The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are planning to switch to a subjective question-based test from the current multiple-choice-based joint entrance examination (JEE) after criticism over the deteriorating quality of students.

The new test will seek to evaluate the knowledge and analytical ability of aspiring students. Critics of the current format, which comprises two multiple-choice papers, include Infosys Ltd chairman emeritus N.R. Narayana Murthy and other executives and alumni.

The move is also being seen by some academicians as a compromise between the government and the IITs over a common entrance exam for all engineering schools. The government wants to conduct a nationwide objective-type selection test for millions of students aspiring for such colleges, including the IITs.

The IITs themselves now favour a two-tier selection process, where the top rank holders in the objective test will be eligible to appear for a finalsubjective question-based evaluation.

The human resource development (HRD) ministry has been informed about the proposal to change the selection process by the senates of at least the five older IITs. The senate is the highest decision-making body at an IIT and comprises senior professors, the director and some outside experts, including former students and executives.

“Selecting students through an objective test is not the best way to get quality students for institutes like IITs,” said Sanjeev Sanghi, president of the IIT Delhi faculty forum. “We need to go back to the subjective format.”

Murthy said at an IIT alumni meet in New York in October last year that JEE coaching centres had led to the deteriorating quality of students entering the colleges. “But their performance in IITs, at jobs or when they come for higher education in institutes in the US is not as good as it used to be,” he said. “This has to be corrected. A new method of selection of students to IITs has to be arrived at.”

While the top 20% of IITians can “stand among the best anywhere in the world”, the quality of the remaining 80% wasn’t as sound, Murthy had said.

Pramod Maheshwari, chief executive of Career Point, an education company that prepares students for the JEE examination, said it wasn’t fair to blame the coaching institutes.

“They should ask why students go for coaching in the first place,” said Maheshwari, himself an IIT alumnus. “The quality of questions when we gave JEE (in 1989) was much tougher than what it is today.”

But Maheshwari said the suggested change would be a good move. “If you make the entrance subjective, it will help for sure,” he said.

On the other hand, Maheshwari suggests that blaming the coaching centres is to ignore other ills in the system. “The standard of many IIT faculties is not very good and they need to do self-audit without blaming coaching centres, who have no say on the entrance,” he said.

The IITs insist though that changing the entrance format will have a significant impact on student quality.

The decline in quality is linked to the switch in the format to objective-type questions in 2005-06, said a senior IIT Bombay professor who didn’t want to be named. Coaching centres’ methods are geared towards helping students spot the right answer out of multiple choices, allowing the undeserving to do better than more gifted aspirants with higher powers of understanding, he added.

The IITs seem to regard the coaching centres with some amount of distrust, even going to the extent of scrapping the JEE centre at Kota, Rajasthan, although it isn’t clear why exactly this had been done. The town is reputed as a hub for coaching centres.

In the new format being proposed by the IITs, the top 50,000 performers will be culled from the applicants that sit in the initial multiple-choice test. Those selected will be subjected to an in-depth, three-paper evaluation, according to IIT professors who declined to be named.

“Mathematics, chemistry and physics need to be tested in three different papers, maybe over two days. Papers will be checked manually by senior professors of the older IITs to create the rankings,” said an IIT Delhi professor. A senior IIT Kanpur professor confirmed this. Both declined to be named.

The JEE is currently the common admission test for the 15 IITs, the Indian School of Mines at Dhanbad and the Institute of Technology at Banaras Hindu University, which jointly admit at least 9,600 students every year. This year, 480,000 appeared for the JEE.

An IIT Bombay senate member expressed resistance to the HRD ministry’s proposal for a common entrance examination for all engineering schools starting next year. “We want a thorough trial in 2013 and then go for it in 2014. (But) the common entrance (exam) should not be the sole basis for the IIT selection process,” he said.

Himangshu R. Vaish, a former president of the IIT Delhi Alumni Association and managing director of Instapower Ltd, told Mint last month that it would be preferable to have a subjective JEE exam. The ministry’s common entrance may affect the IIT brand, he said.

The IIT council and the ministry plan to hold a meeting on the issue on 28 May, said M. Anandakrishnan, chairman of IIT Kanpur. “We will resolve all issues on that day,” he said.

 

[This story was originally published By Prashant K. Nanda @ Livemint.com ]