For 13,000 students aspiring to make the cut to English (hons) in Delhi University (DU), Saturday was the deciding day.
With 21 DU colleges, including Lady Sri Ram, Kamla Nehru, Miranda House and Hindu College, participating in the Combined Aptitude Test for English (CATE) exam, students were tested on various facets of the subject.
However, students who appeared for the exam maintained that not only was the paper analysis-heavy, but it tested their general knowledge of literature as well.
"The first section was easier since it tested our basic general knowledge on subjects such as famous authors and their works. It also had several questions on word meanings," said Riya Sharma, the CBSE Class 12 humanities topper
Several students also claimed that the paper took them by surprise since the extent of reasoning and analysis that the CATE exam involved was far more challenging than what they had been taught to do in school.
"In CBSE, reference to the context questions are very elementary. In Class 12 too, we are not required to analyse a situation and then answer the question. But I was thrown by the CATE exam because the level of the questions was significantly tougher than what was expected," said Pallavi Mitra, an aspirant.
Students also added that the lack of any practice book for the exam made it even more ambiguous.
However, professors at DU claimed that the exam was a precursor to what was in store for the students.
"The very aim of the paper is to test a student's ability to critically analyse a piece of prose or poetry. It is not meant to be an easy paper because the course requires a lot of analysis work on their part," said Sanam Khanna, professor of English, Kamla Nehru College.
While teachers agreed that the paper was moderately difficult, they said that it was the second part of the paper - the prose and poetry section - that added to the difficulty level of the exam.
"The second part of the paper had poetry and a prose section and the students were required to answer question based on that, along with an essay which also required critical thinking. This is the minimum level of analysis and thinking that students need to put in for English (hons)," Khanna added.