Students seeking admission to IITs and all other central engineering schools may soon have to switch from pens and pencils to a computer mouse under a move to completely computerise key centrally conducted entrance tests.
The human resource development (HRD) ministry and the Central Board of Secondary Education are scouting for a firm to audit their preparedness for the switch, top government officials confirmed to HT.
The move is backed by HRD minister MM Pallam Raju.
If the audit concludes that the board and government are ready, the 100% computerised avatar could be rolled out as early as 2014.
But a computerised test for the about 15,00,000 students who seek admission to the IITs, National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and other central engineering schools each year is unlikely to be easy.
The JEE (Main) — earlier called the All India Engineering Entrance Examination — which picks students to the NITs and other central schools and shortlists 150,000 top students for a second round test to select students for the IITs — is currently conducted mostly in the pencil-paper format. But in 2012, the CBSE started offering a computerised version for a few students at select centres, spread over a few days.
“Now we want to check whether we are ready to take the big leap towards dumping the pencil-paper format completely,” a senior CBSE official said.
The audit will check 300 identified centres across 28 Indian cities and Singapore, Kathmandu and Colombo, where computerised tests are planned. At these centres, auditors will check the infrastructure — CCTV surveillance, power backup, 20% additional desktops, standby servers, air-conditioning and access control measures.
Auditors will evaluate software security and whether rigorous security arrangements to prevent question paper leaks are in place. The plan is to upload question papers on a central server and then issue passwords for access to the server to officials in charge of centres through a text message in the morning of the examination.