Kedar Vaidya began studying a month before his Class 12 HSC board exams and still scored 95%. So when he discovered that his score in the state common entrance test for engineering (MH-CET) was a mere 149 on 200, or less than 75%, he was shocked.
"I don't understand what happened," said Vaidya, who had been studying the MH-CET syllabus for two years.
Candidates need a minimum score of 170 - or 85% - to make it to a top-level engineering college; the first round of engineering admissions is currently underway.
Though the MH-CET is based on the Class 12 syllabus, this year several students who scored high marks in the HSC exams have fared poorly in the common entrance test, according to an HT analysis of data provided by the Directorate of Technical Education, which conducts the entrance test.
A comparison of the scores shows that 1,908 students who scored more than 90% in Class 12 have scored less than 150 - or 75% - in the CET. Worse, 145 students who scored more than 90% in Class 12 have scored less than 100 - or 50% - in the CET.
Educationists say this is because students do not understand the concepts that they are studying and instead rely on rote learning.
"CET tests the application of basic concepts, while the Class 12 exams simply test theory," said Tushar Desai, principal of DG Ruparel College.
While rote learning is effective when it comes to theory, at the CET level, the student's true grasp of the subject is revealed.