From next year, even topping the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) may not be enough to secure a seat at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). An IIT aspirant will have to also be within the top 20 percentile in their Class 12 board exam.
The JEE is the entry criterion to the IITs. In the latest proposed reforms, from 2013, IIT aspirants will have to clear two written exams as well as be within the top 20 percentile of students in their education board.
At a meeting on Wednesday, the IIT council proposed to use a student’s board marks as an eligibility criterion, rather than as a screening or ranking criterion. This means, a student’s performance in their board exam will only come into play once a student clears the two-tier JEE. If a student is outside the top 20 percentile in their board, they will not be admitted, regardless of their all India rank in JEE.
Until this year, a student’s eligibility to qualify to the IITs was a minimum score of 60% in the Class 12 board exams. With a view to making the school exam system more relevant, that eligibility criterion has now been upped.
The top 20 percentile will vary from board to board, and year to year, as percentile is a parameter based on a student’s relative performance compared to others in that same board.
While the first exam will be held in the first week of April, the second exam will be held in the third week of May. A student’s board marks are unlikely to be known before May end, depending on when that board releases its results. However, at a meeting between school board heads on Thursday, 20 boards agreed to make the results available before June end next year to ensure smoothness in the IIT admission process.
Faculty members are happy with the proposal as it does away with an earlier proposal of giving a 40% weightage to a student’s ‘normalised’ percentile score, and thus giving board marks a role to play in determining the merit list.
However, alumni and faculty members claim the proposal is anti-poor and anti-rural and that the basis for demarcating the top 20 percentile from the rest is still a debatable one.
“While using a board percentile as a cut-off may be better than using for ranking, what is the guarantee that the students in the top 20 percentile of a certain state board (eligible by the current proposal) are better than the students in the top 30 percentile of CBSE or ICSE,” said a faculty member.
The IIT Delhi Alumni Association has also opposed the 20 percentile stipulation as being “prejudicial to the interests of students from rural India.”