The council of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) proposed a pan-India entrance test for aspiring engineering students, to be started from the 2013 academic year, to replace the IIT joint entrance examination as well as those currently in place at various state engineering colleges. The proposal also aims to increase the weightage given to Class 12 marks.
While students and academics welcome the decision, saying it will benefit students as they will not have to take several separate entrance tests, they suggest that the panel plan the new exam to avoid discrepancies.
“The single test is expected to come into effect in 2013,” says Devang Khakhar, director, IIT-Bombay. “We’re taking our time to launch it, and it will probably be an online test for better computation. There will be one merit list for all colleges to choose from.”
Quality of examination matters most
“The merits of the decision... will bear fruit only if it is structured in a way that facilitates selection for each type of institute,” says KC Tiwari, principal, Bharati Vidyapeeth Institute for Engineering. “The SAT, GMAT and GRE systems have proved successful in this regard. Each institute must, however, be given options to include additional criteria.”
“The IIT JEE is conducted by a qualified panel that knows IITs’ requirements well,” agrees Nipun Katyal, an IIT-B alumnus and a management consultant. “Ideally, we should keep the JEE intact and club the others into one exam, and perhaps extend the JEE merit list so that quality colleges that are ranked just below the IITs can also have their pick.”
What Weightage to Class 12 Marks?
“It should be made clear how much weightage the Class 12 marks are given,” says Nipun Katyal, an IIT-B alumnus and a management consultant. “It is almost impossible to normalise marks from different boards so that there is fair competition. A detailed statistical study is required, after which systems can be put in place to equalise different boards, but these can’t remain watertight solutions. If an accurate system is not in place, they should perhaps not include the board marks.”
IIT-Bombay director Devang Khakhar says the council will develop a fair method to standardise marks from boards.
A single standardised test
“Standardisation is essential,” says Seema Shah, acting principal, Vidyalankar Institute of Technology. “One centralised examination will enable students to work hard to crack the exam in the best possible way. With too many entrances, students... lose focus. Moreover, a single test will ensure a standardised evaluation and a defined time span for admissions.”
However, a single exam may put too much pressure on students, say some experts. “While it is a welcome idea, it must be planned properly. A student may not be feeling well on that day, or may have circumstances that render him or her unable to prepare properly,” says G Raghurama, director, BITS Pilani. “Therefore, the exam should be conducted two or three times a year to give the student the best opportunity.” The council is yet to decide upon the logistics, and how often the test will be held.