Various expert committees on IITs have, in the past, recommended that there should be set mechanisms that can help minimise the need for coaching. The Acharya Committee formed by the HRD ministry in March 2010 presented in its interim report an alternative to the then examination system for admission into engineering colleges, including IITs. As per this report, factors – other than the Class 12 marks and all-India Rank (AIR) based on physics, chemistry and math (PCM) testing – such as raw intelligence, logical reasoning, aptitude, comprehension and general knowledge need to be considered. The need to factor in school performance more significantly into the selection process was stressed.
The Ramasami Committee, formed by the HRD ministry in November 2010, also suggested that there should be a national screening test scheme with two sections, one each on aptitude and advanced concepts. This report was discussed in the 4th meeting of the NIT Council in July 2012. It was felt that a combination of school and national-level test performance would help develop an alternative admission system wherein multiplicity of tests and dependency on coaching would get reduced by incorporating 10+2 (or its equivalent) results. The need for the influence of coaching for JEE to be minimised was also discussed by these committees.
Before taking the JEE for engineering, aspirants will have to appear for an online aptitude test which will determine whether they are fit to write the examination. This, along with several other recommendations, were given in a report submitted to the Centre on November 5, 2015. The Committee of Eminent Persons (CEP) constituted by the IIT Council had proposed setting up a National Testing Service (NTS) by 2016 to conduct the aptitude test. HT Education had reported this earlier in November 2015.
The committee deliberated on the possibility of creating an entirely new system of examination for the future, in lieu of JEE (Main), likely from 2017. “For this, it is proposed that a national-level testing service be set up in India along the lines of the Education Testing Service of the US. About three years ago, the MHRD also looked at such a possibility and a white paper on National Agency for Testing (NAT) was prepared. The proposal is that the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)-type examination be an aptitude test from which four or five lakh candidates would be chosen. This would have a quantitative and a qualitative portion. This test may be conducted several times in a year,” state the recommendations.
The aptitude test is likely to be conducted in the online mode and will test the scientific aptitude and innovative thinking ability of aspirants. The committee experts recommended that this test should be developed in such a way that it reduces a candidate’s dependence on coaching. “It is believed that the SAT examination is a very good measure of the aptitude of students that get into leading universities and institutes in USA. SAT is very well tried and tested system and has shown excellent correlation with the ability of students to succeed in college. It is also believed that coaching does not have a significant role in the performance of students the in the SAT examination. Further, in due course after SAT stabilises the scores may be used for admission in other sectors such as medical sciences, sciences and liberal arts,” states the committee report.
“The aptitude test, along with other changes, are aimed at reducing financial and mental burden on candidates and their parents,” says Professor KV Krishna, member, Joint Admissions Board of the IITs.
While the JEE will continue to be held in two stages, online aptitude tests to check the scientific aptitude of candidates will be held several times a year. About four lakh candidates will be shortlisted for the JEE which will be on the lines of the current JEE (Advanced) by the IITs and will test the candidates in physics, chemistry and math. On the basis of their ranks, more than 40,000 students will be able to apply to the IITs and NITs after common counselling.