Makes sense

The new format of the entrance examination for admission to the Indian Institutes of Technology  and other government  engineering colleges in the country have a welcome emphasis on the aptitude of candidates and the scholastic abilities represented by the marks in the qualifying examination.

The common test will cover all the 15 IITs, 30 national institutes of technology, four Indian institutes of information technology and five Indian institutes of science education and research. It comes in place of the IIT joint entrance examination and the all India engineering entrance examination, and  the plan, as announced by the government, will be implemented from 2013. It will have the advantage of reducing the number of tests students have to take for admission to the various engineering institutes. This helps them to save a lot of money and trouble in travelling to various centres of examination and to avoid much mental and physical stress.

The new format consists of a common aptitude-cum-advanced knowledge test which will have a weightage of 60 per cent and board examination results of Plus Two or equivalent examination which will account for 40 per cent of the total marks. An important criticism levelled against the IIT JEE is that it is biased in favour of students who are coached for years to appear for the test. It is not the creativity or aptitude of students that counts in the test but their ability to learn by rote.

The decline in standards of education in the IITs and the quality of students who join them is attributed to this. The new system should help to reduce the influence of the coaching institutes which many students cannot afford. It is not known what weightage aptitude has got within the 60 per cent allotted to the aptitude-cum-knowledge segment. Ideally it should have more importance than knowledge because knowledge can be acquired by those who have the aptitude and ability to learn.

Since engineering entrance was separated from school board tests students tended to give scant attention to their studies in school. The new system will correct this but the variety in the school board syllabi across the country and varying standards of education might pose difficulties. It is necessary to have uniform syllabus and standards across school boards. This may not be difficult because the subjects involved are mathematics and science. If implemented well, the system should turn out to be better than the existing one.

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