Come test me

The most traveling I did while growing up was in May-June after my class XII. That was also the time when I wrote the most number of examinations within a month. For that was my time to appear for those so called “entrance exams” – a fancy term for the mad rush to get into quality professional colleges.

Exams were sure fun, so many of them. Indian School of Mines. IIT. AFMC Pune. CBSE pre-medical. AIIMS. BHU medical college. JIPMER Pondicherry. These were the names and acronyms that made me hit the local exam-tourism circuit. Almost the same tricks and treats in each of them, with a bit of variation. Some extra trickery with ropes, pulleys and weights in IIT-JEE, and a few more of who-discovered-oxygen types in medical school tests.

While going through them, I did ponder over the futility. I remember asking my dad, “is it that these schools dont trust each other’s testing capabilities”? Or, “is it that these colleges can’t agree upon a common entity to conduct a test for them”?

Why is it that IITs won’t admit students based purely on their Class XII scores? Why is it that AFMC, AIIMS, BHU medical colleges and a few more would dismiss my class XII biology scores as ‘more than 50% is good enough’ and yet go on to ask me the same questions on stem, calyx and corolla in their custom designed entrance tests?

If these are indeed great professional colleges on their own merit, why would they be so scared of the risk that letting in a few average students will bring? A good school should be able to convert average or above average students into good ones – isn’t that how you define a good school?

Assuming the situation hasn’t changed that much for class XII students now, I still have these questions intact. Fair ones to ask? Or are these not valid anymore?

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15 Responses

  1. Am sure for the students, a central test would qualify as “nice to have” feature. I remeber being so upset with the “oh so many” tests that I decided to settle for writing just two (IIT JEE and Common Kerala Entrance) and taking my chnaces.

    Btw, guess its because they think they alone can come up with a good test paper and these schools dont trust each other’s testing capabilities

  2. BITS – Pilani was quite unique in this regard. They would convert your 12th Percentage into a percentile based on the highest score given by your Board that year. So if West Bengal boards are notorious for giving very low marks (very few scored anything more than 70%) your percentile would still be good, because the topper would have 77%.

    Wonder if they still follow this practice. Last i heard was that they were planning to switch to entrance exams.

    There should be a central exam – like the MAT whose score you can take and apply to various institutes.

    Institutes like XLRI learn a major chunk of money simply by conducting exams ! They hardly have a few hundred seats while lakhs apply! And the application form would be around Rs 2k! If 1 lac students appear for the exams its a neat 2000 x 100000 = Rs 20 Crores. No wonder XLRI is a business institute!

  3. I remember when i had to go thru all these test. I guess it’s like a rite of passage for students here. But institutes need to come up with a central test, this redundancy is not helping anyone really. With CET and COMED-K mess becoming messier every year, it looks like students will have to deal with it for now. But the BITS way of admitting students seems to be a good idea.

  4. You nails it on the bxxx…all the great institutes who close the admissions for brillient students are playing amock, we staying in a democratic society can’t even ensure equal opportunities for all. ideally every institute has to admit everyone on first come first serve basis and get them turn out to be great students. I fial to understand when even infosys says that they have closed the recruitement gates for anyone below 60% in their academics..this is the most diappointing of all…mr.murthy will agree that what he learnt in his PUC, degree is not even helped him to get his first project right. but they themselves can’t break this topper’s paradigm…less said the better!!

  5. How much were the fees for each of those entrace tests? Does that provide any answer?

  6. I sat IIT-JEE and the JEE of medical colleges. I got very high ranks in both.

    Then the HS results were published. My marks were appallingly bad. I was in IIT by then, and loving it.

    On appealing to the Board of Education we realised that one of my maths papers had gone missing, so I had been ‘awarded’ pass marks only. And sorry there was nothing else that could be done.

    I was left facing a brick wall. No one was bothered or cared.

    Had school leaving exams results been used to select students into professional colleges, I would not have even been considered for any.

    I for one was glad for the separate JEEs.

  7. Little Indian, I can imagine you must have had a tough time. But the point is – why not improve that exam system, invest there, as opposed to multiple entrance exams. Besides, how do we know that these institutes are not doing similar goof ups in their exams.

    AKD, That is a good point. Exams must be a good source of revenue for some.

    Yes Roshan, agree that BITS Pilani thing sounds good. How about a single GATE like thing. Normalized XII marks and score from this single mother-of-all GATE like thing – take the two together and throw out all entrance tests.

    This sounds like common-sensical stuff to me, I bet HRD ministry would be trying or thinking up something like this.

  8. SB, you believe the HRD ministry is thinking up something like this? I doubt it, it’s Arjun Singh we are talking about. I’d be really glad if he were thinking on these lines. I had written a blog post about reforming our higher education, not specifically about entrance exams, but about the recommendations of the Knowledge Commission. It would be really good for our education sector if the minister also considers that in earnest.

    And Rajesh, I don’t agree with what you have to say about ‘democratizing’ our admission system. If that were to happen, the incentive to work hard and learn disappears. All u need to do to get a job/admission is to be the first to apply! I agree that what we learnt in PUC/college hasn’t really helped us in our work life. But the question is not really what you learnt, coz companies have their own training sessions to teach you. Rather the question is how you went about learning in college, how seriously you took your education. And trust me, 60% is by no means the toppers now days.

  9. “recommendations of the Knowledge Commission.”

    haha… Roshan.. Knowledge commission had also advised against Reservations by the way. And it would be quite naive to think that Arjun Singh and his likes have actually anything to do with making the education system better – same with Murali Manohar Joshi – the former is trying to revive his political career by reservations the latter thinks Astrology and not Astronomy is a important subject which should be taught at degree level in colleges.

    If our education system is good in parts its because of Nehur – who had the vision – and private sector (talk about schools!).

  10. Well, they haven’t advised against Reservations exactly, they prefer reservations based on a deprivation index. Which btw, I support too. And what you have said is Exactly what I’ve said in my blog too. I don’t believe that we have had good HRD minister for a long time. And neither do I believe Arjun Singh will implement any of the recommendations, but as I said, Lalu has surprised all of us with his handling of railway ministry. I’m really hoping Arjun Singh will surprise us similarly. I know it’s hoping against hope, but then again, I’m an optimist :)

  11. silk board:

    “If these are indeed great professional colleges on their own merit, why would they be so scared of the risk that letting in a few average students will bring? A good school should be able to convert average or above average students into good ones – isn’t that how you define a good school?”

    if anyone had an argument against reservations for iit/iim, this argument of yours will easily beat them all, what say?

    – s.b.

  12. Very sensible post.
    Time we stopped subjecting kids to the trauma of so many entrance exams. Schools should just do the job of preparing students for the school leaving board exam common across the country . Then these marks should be considered for admission to the colleges.
    Problem with having to have so many levels of screening is the demans supply gap and at the end of all this the system makes a mockery of its own screening processes by applying reservation norms for a chunk of the seats.
    It is tough to be young in this country.

  13. Some Body, thanks for the support. I have always wondered what a definition for a good school is. With that one, I am not sure if I will put IITs there either.

    Thanks Usha. True it is tough to be a young teen in this country. And for no fault of theirs. And in this day and age, when the industries are all screaming shortage shortage on skills front. Ironic.

    Roshan, Apun KD, Arjun Singh and surprise, you bet we will have some action from him once we get closer to the polls. An acquaintance who teaches in Kendriya Vidyalaya was saying that the “rates” for job transfers went up after Arjun took over. Wonder if Mr Singh has anything to do with that :)

  14. very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
    Idetrorce

  15. [...] However, competition for the college seats is very tough – admission is based on performance in a standardized mass entrance exam usually heavy on logic and advanced [...]

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