Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) alumni have said they will help students move court, former IIT students have bemoaned its impact and coaching classes are already getting ready to modify their courses in order to cater to the new IIT Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) format. But is the new format of the IIT entrance exam as bad as its made out to be or will it actually force students to ensure they attend schools and perform there as well?
Under the new examination format for the IIT entrance exams, applicants will have to appear for two exams to be held on the same day. The final set of students for the IITs and National Institutes of Technology will then be worked out based on their scores in both the class XII examinations and the entrance exam.
The move has already found opponents with a group of IIT alumni threatening to move court soon to postpone the exam from 2013 to 2014. The president of IIT Delhi alumni was quoted as saying in the Times of India, that they would be helping students move court and file a PIL against the new examination system.
However, director of IIT Guwahati Gautam Barua believes that the new examination system will only improve the standard of schools upto class XII, since students who ignore their state board examinations to focus only on the IIT entrance exams will not be able to do so any more.
In an editorial in the Indian Express, Barua has said that the new examination format should be welcomed since it gives importance to the National Institutes of Technology in addition to the IITs and says the new format will not affect the quality of the students entering the institute in any way.
Justifying a common exam for entrance into NITs and IITs, Barua says:
First of all, the IITs have a different examination format from the NITs due to the opposition the original proposal faced from a section of IIT faculty and alumni. The NITs will now be following the original proposal and will include board marks in the final ranking process. The IITs, on the other hand, will use board marks only in screening students. The distrust of the school boards system shown by a section of the IIT faculty and alumni has no firm basis, and the objections have been mainly anecdotal.
Barua believes the new examination system will give students an even chance at getting into IITs and NITs since they now will have two chances – the Class XII exams and the entrance exam- to get into the engineering institutes.
The IIT director’s arguments will not find many takers among coaching class owners for whom the IIT JEE and getting their students to ‘crack’ it has become a multi-crore industry. Students attend classes that are solely focussed on the entrance exams with many of the classes even allowing them to write Class XII exams privately instead of attending schools or colleges.
However, as Barua points out the classes may also make a killing given that they will now hike fees to prepare students for the additional pressure of Class XII exams.
The new examination system also only makes sense when all the states in India begin implementing it. Students in India are used to writing multiple exams for entrance into engineering colleges, some of them for national institutes and others for individual state colleges. While the curriculum for all the exams may largely be the same, the number of exams do put an undue amount of stress of the students.