changes to IIT JEE

IIT-JEE : The challenges

IITs have been the most sought-after institutions for engineering education in India for decades. It is a premium brand that people aspire to be associated with, as it brings a lot of respect and opportunities to those who succeed in getting into them. It appears to indicate a recognition of capabilities. Not just for the student, but also for the family members of the student!

But getting into the limited seats in IITs is a huge challenge. As we know, the JEE (Joint Entrance Exam) for admission to IITs is conducted in 2 parts: JEE-Main and JEE-Advanced. JEE-Mains is also a base for admission to NITs, IIITs, and some of the Central and State Government funded Technical Institutions. IIT-JEE courses have always been in high demand since decades.

Out of approximately 1.35 million students who appeared for JEE-Mains in 2014, about 1.19 lakh (9%) appeared for JEE-Advanced and 27,152 (22%) qualified for admission. Finally about 9800+ students get admission into IITs (including ISM Dhanbad). That is about 0.7% of those appeared for JEE-Main! This is after the recent addition of new IITs, otherwise the ratio is much worse.

Dependency on Coaching Institutes

With ever growing competition and increasing complexity of the entrance exams, the dependency on coaching institutes has been obviously increasing. It is now a massive industry in itself.

The board introduced inclusion of Class 12/Inter percentile to make it more broad-sided and reduce dependency on the coaching institutes, but it does not seem to have achieved much of the intended effect. It has moved the coaching paradigm from pure-play coaching (school was independent from coaching) to extended schooling i.e. integrating school with coaching now.

The preparation which used to intensify by Class 11 or 1st year Intermediate about a decade or so ago, now starts by even 6th class in some integrated schools and intensifies by 8th! These special Schools have extra long days to grind students for this ‘test of life’ for students and parents.

Whats more, a meagre 6 cities account for over 40% of students who qualified in the JEE-Advanced in 2014, and along with next 5 cities, just these 11 cities contribute 52% of those who qualified according to an analysis released by IIT Kharagpur, the organising IIT in 2014.

The heavy presence of coaching institutes in these cities is considered an influential factor in tilting the results in favour of these cities. The concern is not only about the skewed numbers, but that many coaching institutes are focussing on intense practice rather than analytical thinking and aptitude.

Review and recommendations

The HRD ministry, had appointed a Committee of Eminent Persons(CEP) led by IIT Roorkee chairman Prof. Ashok Misra to seek improvements to the IITs and NIT admission system. This committee submitted its report on 5th Nov-2015.

The CEP’s recommendations could change the structure of JEE significantly from 2017 onwards. The key aspects of the recommendations are :

– A National Testing Service shall be set up by early 2016, to conduct an Aptitude Test that tests the    scientific aptitude and innovative thinking ability. The Aptitude test may be offered online 2 or more times in a year. It shall test the scientific thinking rather than what can be gamed through coaching.

– From this test, about 400,000 candidates shall be short-listed for taking the single-tier JEE. This JEE will be on the lines of the current JEE-Advanced to test the knowledge in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics, and will be conducted by the IITs.

– From this, ranks will be issued to 40,000+ students who can seek admission in IITs and NITs based on a common counselling.

The Government has decided to place the recommendations of the Report in the public domain for widespread consultation with the stakeholders. Till such time, that is for 2016 and 2017, the practice of two-tier JEE examination shall be continued.

– The top 200,000 students from JEE (Main) shall be allowed to appear in JEE (Advanced).

– More than 40,000 ranks will be issued in JEE (Advanced) for developing a better system for selection of candidates.

– Joint counselling for IITs and NITs shall be continued as was done last year.

– Board marks shall not to be counted for giving rankings this year for NITs, CFTIs etc.

Apart from these suggestions, the IITs would be requested to roll-out mock JEE examinations to help students prepare for the JEE. It is also recommended to take measures for the improvement of school education and the method of examination of the Boards, so that students with Scientific aptitude are well prepared by the time they reach 12th grade, without dependence on coaching institutions.

What lies ahead

The pros and cons of the suggestions are yet to be seen. It is not going to be easy in our viewpoint. With such a massive competition, it will be hard to avoid the influence of coaching centres. Because even if JEE preparation is built into school education, we know that the quality of school education differs vastly across schools and demographies- villages, towns, cities and their geographical locations in India e.g North-East.

Teachers will also need to be able comprehend the enhanced requirements.  So it is again the exclusive city based private schools which have an advantage here. Plus our school syllabus is already stuffed to the point of tear with so many subjects and chapters from LKG itself. So where is the bandwidth for more to be taught and practised ?

Technology can help bring equality to the maximum possible extent, given  that quality education can be made affordable and accessible from anywhere. Something what we are also striving for at AddMyLearning.com.

You are welcome to place your comments.

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