Confusion over changing entrance tests pattern

Confusion over changing entrance tests pattern

NO THROUGH FARE, The confusion in the pattern of the entrance tests introduced in engineering and medical tests will also gravely affect the quality of students, writes Aakash Chaudhry

In the last one year or so, both the medical and engineering entrance examination patterns have witnessed a tremendous amount of attention from the government, regulatory bodies, the media, students and parents alike. The changes introduced in the entrance tests for the fields of engineering and medical education, have created quite a stressful situation for students where they are left directionless and confused at many a stage.

As far as the IITs are concerned, a directive by the ministry stated that only a single exam will be conducted for enlisted colleges across the country offering engineering courses this year onwards.According to the new selection norms, students are expected to not just clear the JEE mains and the advanced exams, but to also be in the top 20 percentile of their respective state boards’ class XII exam scores.

While the idea was to make students focus more on school studies, it has actually proved counter-productive. Students in states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu or Kerala are put at an immediate disadvantage despite securing a good score in the JEE and performing well in class XII, as the average cut-off in these states is better than those in states like Bihar or Tripura by huge margins of almost 40% in some cases.

A case in point is the student from Andhra Pradesh whose rank in the JEE (advanced) was 1,256 this year and he also scored 91.1% in the Andhra Pradesh board exam for class 12. Yet, he failed to get a seat in the IITs as the cut-off for Andhra Pradesh was pegged at 91.8%.In case of medical entrances, the introduction of the NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) in 2013 was expected to scrap all state-level medical entrance tests and the All-India PMT exam. The CBSE had confirmation from all state medical councils for their participation in the NEET 2013.

 A total of 271 MBBS colleges had been listed by the Medical Council of India (MCI), which would fall under the aegis of NEET 2013. These colleges offer a total of 31,000 MBBS seats across India. The idea behind the NEET was that it would stop the corrupt practice which enabled undeserving students to get admissions by paying huge capitation fees or donations as the entire examination process would be monitored centrally. It would also enable economically backward students to give one exam without travelling to different parts of the country and would ensure that the meritorious students get the seats they deserve.

 However, the Supreme Court has now said it will reconsider the verdict on the NEET. This has basically contributed in confusing the students further and sending them the signal that they will not have a clear direction about the entrances for some time to come.

The confusion in the pattern of the examinations will also gravely affect the quality of students. As seen in the case of IITs, the deserving students lose out because of the disparity in state board percentile. In case of medical schools, the delayed implementation of the NEET means that the problem of paid seats, corruption in allocation of seats and streams etc continues. This is detrimental for not just the career of deserving students but also for the country and the economy at large.

It will also mean that students who are bright might re-consider sitting for these exams due to a lack of direction. They may choose other career options where there is more clarity and less red-tapism. Students, who can afford to, will choose to study abroad where a singular, well-defined exam like the SAT needs to be taken to get into one of the top institutes. The entire idea behind the changes ostensibly is to improve the education system and prevent brain drain. But the kind of confusion that the changes in the formats are causing will only result in the opposite.

Education is becoming a matter of politics in this context. Various parties are using this subject to meet their own ulterior motives at the expense of students. State Entrance Exams as opposed to one centralised examination benefit the businesses and banks which fund the training of students for elaborate preparations. State governments are able to unfairly politicise this issue by making it seem like they are protecting minorities by not supporting a centralised exam.

Hence an issue as sensitive and important as education is made political and decisions are taken in a way that support education providers and politicians but not those seeking an education to build their future. We are living in an ever-changing world, where things are changing at a fast pace to suit the current consumer needs, without constant reforms in our education system, we will be left behind.

Students unfortunately suffer at the hands of all this regulatory back and forth but the best advice for them in this case is to be calm and prepare keeping the current formats in mind. They must focus on mastering the syllabus and understanding the concepts in depth without getting carried away by the nitty-gritty of formats and changes. There is no denying that these changes cause an adverse impact on the mental make-up of students. But once a student is thorough with his entire syllabus with a focus on understanding and not on rote, he can attempt any exam with flair and success.

And lastly, one must remember that all students are in the same boat, any changes in the pattern or any confusion around the examination will affect all candidates, thereby keeping the relative variation pretty much negligible.

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