JEE Advanced 2016 chairman’s take on new aptitude test plan
Professor Prashant P Date, chairman, JEE Advanced 2016 (IIT Bombay), talks about the objectives behind recent JEE changes, their impact on students and more. Excerpts from an interview.education Updated: Jan 14, 2016 16:02 IST
1. What are the changes expected in the JEE in the next two years?
This year is a status quo (same as last year) except that the number of candidates appearing for JEE advanced will be two lakh instead of 1.5 lakh.
2. Please elaborate on the new aptitude test before JEE.
The new system is still under discussion, and it will be too early to say what kind of an exam an aptitude test will be. But then at this time it is sufficient to note that the objectives of the test seek to make the process more candidate friendly, less stressful, and more effective in identifying talent suited to pursue science and engineering.
The new aptitude testing system aims to focus on understanding of the subject, clarity, and innovative thinking. It is expected that those who qualify through this test would have a natural aptitude towards higher studies in science and engineering.
3. What are the objectives behind introducing these changes and how will they impact aspirants?
The objectives are as spelt out earlier - students should not neglect Board exams, and vacant seats in NITs and IITs should come down. The latter has a positive impact on the JEE aspirants. Only time will tell if paying attention to board exams has benefitted the aspirants or not. This is because the purpose of board exams and JEE are different.
A Board exam is a public exam that opens up several avenues to education at various levels depending on the capability of the candidate. That is why the scores of the two exams cannot / should not be combined into a single merit list.
Exams like JEE probe the potential in a candidate for higher learning. So while clearing a board exam is a must (without which one is denied most of the opportunities), clearing other exams (JEE being one of these) is desirable. It is from this standpoint that board exams should get the due attention from students. In particular, if one does not do well enough in the JEE, a good performance in board exams enables a candidate get into many excellent career opportunities.
In my view, a Board exam is a gateway to a huge chunk of opportunities and career options/directions, which are thrown open to only those who clear the Board exam. However, due to social perceptions attached to the JEE (as an endorsement of one’s merit), clearing JEE is seen as ‘mandatory’ by students and their parents alike as that impacts one’s standing in the society, to say the least. Most of those who mentally close all other very viable options, generate undue pressure upon themselves. In reality, success in one’s profession depends more on how hard one works rather than whether one has graduated from an IIT or not. Many successful professionals have this feature in common.
Hence it is important to look at the multifarious options that open up as a result of doing well in the board exams.
4. What is your take on common counselling for the IITs and NITs?
Actually IITs take students exclusively from the pool of students who qualify in the JEE Advanced. Besides, in common counselling one has to report to the RCs of IITs and NITs independently.
So instead of common counselling, a ‘coordinated counselling’ might help better. This way IIT admissions will get delinked from the NIT admissions wherein JEE Advanced score is not the criterion for admission. In a coordinated counselling those who do not get a seat in the IIT (based on choices filled in and the JEE Advanced rank of the candidate) for various reasons can participate in counselling of the NITs.
It is still not possible, using either of the two methods, to eliminate vacant seats completely since there are many acceptable opportunities outside the IIT-NIT system due to which a candidate may reject the offer in an IIT/NIT.
5. How do you see changes introduced in the last few years in engineering entrance exams like introduction of a two-stage exam when JEE main and JEE advanced were implemented?
Given the enormous number of students competing, a two stage exam is inevitable. Eliminating subjectivity is also important when exams are conducted on such a large scale.
6. Should there be a common exam for admission to all engineering programmes? Why or why not?
No. This is because every exam means another opportunity. If one does not do well in one, one still has a chance in the other. Hence one has many opportunities / openings. One is not gauged from one’s performance in a single exam. A single exam cannot in any way comprehensively judge one’s capabilities, one’s aptitude. So a single entrance exam will only create a bottleneck. As long as there are entrance exams, coaching classes are there to stay. Stronger is the bottleneck (only one entrance exam), stronger will be the coaching industry and lower will be the effectiveness of such an exam.
Moreover, by having a common exam, the number of exams for engineering programmes is reduced by just one. Given the numerous entrance exams including those conducted by private institutions, reduction in number of exams by one does not really take away much of exam stress. In fact, it might generate more stress as one exam can be seen to “make or break” one’s career.
7. How much weightage should be given to Class 12 marks for admission to the IITs and other engineering programmes?
For reasons mentioned earlier, there should be NO weightage to Class 12 marks, only clearing Class 12 should be mandatory. The exams specifically designed for identifying merit for engineering programmes should decide admissions to IITs, NITs and other engineering institutions.