The end of board exams signifies freedom and respite for many harassed students across the country. Except for those brave souls who wish to study Engineering or Medicine. For them, the slog has just begun. Lakhs of students in India appear for various entrance exams – such as the IIT-JEE, AIEEE, BITSAT, VITEEE, SRMEE, ASEEE, and various state-level entrances like MHT-CET, Orissa JEE, EAMCET, GUJCET and UPCET (for to-be engineers) and AIPMT, AIIMS, and AFMC for medical aspirants, not to mention the hundreds of private institutions and their various entrance examinations like AIMS, ENAT, SRMMEE, COMEDK, DUMET and so on. Every student shudders at the thought of the lengthy application processes, the different examination patterns and finally, (and this is the worst part!) waiting for the results of each exam!
But the good news is that is all history. From the year 2013 onwards, enter ISEET (Indian Science and Engineering Eligibility Test) and NEET (National Entrance-cum-Eligibility Test) which will replace the several engineering and medical entrances respectively.
The bright side…
Now the stress of commuting to different centres and preparing for different exams separately is history. A common national-level entrance test is the solution to all these problems. This would solve the time, money and efforts of the students, while bringing down their stress levels, also ensuring that there are no disparities between students of different states or education boards. Also, there would be fewer loopholes in the admission process, demolishing the concept of ‘donation’ or ‘management quota’. As Swaraj Dharia, a class 12 student says, ‘It is a brilliant idea, which takes the pressure off the students. But aptitude should be given more weightage if they want actually brilliant people to get in,’
But what will it be like?
The new examination pattern of these entrance tests has made life easier (has it?) for harangued students. As in, the ISEET has two parts, Main and Advance, each of three hours duration. Both tests will be given on the same day, between 10 am and 5 pm, conducted in either March or April. While ISEET main is an objective type exam, testing a student’s ability to comprehend, analyze and think logically, ISEET Advance tests a candidate’s basic problem-solving skills in Physics, Chemistry and Maths.
As for NEET, the medical entrance, it tests a student’s knowledge in Physics (30% weightage), Chemistry (30% weightage), Botany and Zoology (40% weightage together), comprising of three papers of 250 marks each (objective type) and will be conducted tentatively in the month of May.
The other side of the coin…
But as they say, every system has its merits and demerits. ‘As compared to individual or state-level entrance tests, the competition will be far tougher at the national level. Moreover, students who have been studying in their respective state boards cannot suddenly adapt to a national level test. Also, for average students, it can be tough to cope up with the revised syllabus and pattern,’ opines Ambrish Tiwari, founder of Genius Academy.
Earlier, students who could not perform well in one examination could compensate by performing better in another by virtue of different patterns and difficulty levels. For example, a student who could not do well in IIT-JEE could have a shot at doing well in MHT-CET, which is easier to score in. Now, this chance is lost, as there will be only one entrance test, which is kind of like a do-or-die deal.
There have been various instances wherein students focused only on one particular examination like the IIT-JEE and in the process, screwed up all the other tests and ironically, could not clear IIT-JEE too. Also, students who could not cope up with the syllabus of examinations like IIT-JEE shifted their focus to relatively easier entrance tests like BITSAT or AIEEE. But now, with the introduction of ISEET and NEET, the pressure on students to perform will increase abysmally.
On the whole, the concept of a single entrance examination is aimed at revolutionizing the higher education system and rectifying the cracks in the system. But again, what may be good for some may not be good for others. Let’s see how this new system works out!
– Janhavi Deshpande