entrance tests should be scrapped
entrance tests should be scrapped
Parents of schoolchildren, academic administrators and Shastri Bhavan mandarins, all seem to be united in the perception that entrance examinations are imposing an unacceptable level of burden on students. The previous government attempted to reduce the number of competitive examinations. The present government has also shown its sensitivity to this problem and the minister concerned convening a meeting of the heads of the IITs, IIMs, NCERT and CBSE to discuss the required reforms has received wide coverage in the media.
The entrance examinations appeared on our academic scene when the publicly funded colleges and institutes started admitting students on an all-India basis. Our preoccupation with legally-defensible objective merit-listing in the era of an extremely short-on-supply professional-college opportunities, and each state having independent, non-comparable school-leaving examinations, led us naturally to conducting all-India examinations where all candidates were tested on the same set of questions.
This was the beginning of a problem that has now acquired crises proportions and which threatens the entire academic system. Let us take the example of the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), which is conducted jointly by the seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). The stakes for the candidates are pretty high. This, after all, is the gateway to perhaps the best in education that our country has to offer and to the most lucrative careers. Though JEE is indisputably the best-organised competitive entrance examination with a well-deserved reputation for honesty, it is far from what an ideal examination should be. In fact, some of us believe that the "above board" image of the JEE combined with the inherent attractiveness of an IIT education has had a deep impact on society, which, in turn, has introduced gross distortions in the JEE itself.
Most of what are seen as shortcomings of the JEE are a direct outcome of the supreme wish (and the resultant anxiety) of the parents of high-school kids around the country for quality education. The anxiety translates into the only possible action they can think of: getting their kids admitted to a good coaching institute, contact or postal. The advertising pages of every newspaper or periodical and public walls in the smallest of townships bear witness to a flourishing industry spawned by this, and other such examinations. It is estimated that JEE coaching business alone generates a GDP in excess of Rs 10,000 crore.
Coaching is invidious. The often-heard argument that coaching made inroads because our school education is inadequate is absurd. Let us not forget that teaching and coaching (as is practised by the JEE coaching schools) are two different things. Even the best of coaching does not attempt to clarify concepts. It does not inculcate the spirit of inquiry. It does not train persons in starting from the first principles. Instead, it relies on pattern recognition. Do enough problems so that when you see a problem in the exam, you can recall the special trick, the special integrating factor, substitution or whatever is required to obtain the answer.
It is felt that the practice of drilling has affected the general attitude of students towards the education process. It is reflected in their performance, in the narrowness of their vision and in their technological career achievements. Gone is the love for learning and curiosity. Our students wait in the lectures for the bottom line, the formulae they can plug into or the recipe they can follow for the examination problem. Since the brighter among the school students are interested in preparing for the JEE, the entire school education stands adversely affected. Students now spend less and less time in exploring what is not directly relevant for JEE. Witness the fate of science laboratories in schools. Now that JEE coaching is beginning in class VIII, the study of social sciences and languages is similarly affected.
Big coaching establishments have made real inroads in the education process today. I know of many corporate coaching establishments who have arrangements with junior colleges wherein students in classes XI and XII do not go to college at all. They are full-time at the coaching centres, being drilled in physics, chemistry and mathematics. No languages, and no laboratories for them. It is the junior colleges’ responsibility to "arrange" for the laboratory marks for students. Nearly half of the students admitted to the IITs have never entered a laboratory before joining the engineering programme.
I do not believe that competitive examinations are true tests of "quality" of students. Those of us who teach core courses to these JEE qualified students (within the IITs), know how weak the basic concepts of most of them are. The performance, even statistical, of candidates in the JEE is perhaps the most well-guarded secret in the country, with no information being made available to even those who want to do academic research. However, it is no secret from anybody that the performance level is extremely low. The present level and style of JEE ensures that except for a very small group of exceptional candidates, the bulk of the selection is from such a low-score regime (compared to the marks of a single question on the exam) that "chance factors" become significant determinants of "selection".
Those of us who set question papers for the JEE react to the coaching pattern by raising the level of the question papers steadily. The performance levels demanded in JEE today have no parity with what may be regarded as reasonably-high expectations of scholastic achievement from a well-rounded secondary school student. Rather, almost no one within the JEE system has any idea on what makes for a good competitive examination. No research has ever been done on this. I know of the attempt made by one of the IITs to set up a research unit; it came to a naught because of the extreme unwillingness of the system to "open the can of worms".
There is a full-blown crisis in science education in our country, and we better wake up to it. It can no longer be corrected by making the question papers easier. The desire of the middle-class parents for quality education for their children, no matter at what personal cost, will ensure that the coaching industry will not now disappear, whatever be the level of question papers.
We have to abolish the competitive examinations as such, and it can be done. The problem of different grading patterns in different boards can be solved scientifically without legislating a uniform secondary education. This can be done by converting the marks obtained by a student in different subjects in to "standard" or "normal" scores. All it will require is that each board of examination be asked to publish the mean score and the standard deviation in each of the subjects. The standard scores in different subjects so computed could be added to obtain the overall scores for each of the candidates. These overall scores can be used for preparing the merit lists.
The procedure outlined above is well known to statisticians and stands on proven scientific basis. It has the advantage that we can validly compare performances in non-identical tests. The other major advantage it has in the context of admission tests is that students can be tested on longer questions, something that is not possible in objective-type tests. Most competitive examinations, with the exception of the second phase of the JEE, are multiple-choice tests, which are conducted at too low a level of cognition to be the valid measures of a candidate’s ability (while these bring in the ease of evaluation and reliability of grading). If we use the regular board examinations for the purpose of admission as outlined above, we can use all the research conducted by NCERT and other such bodies in design of examination. The marks obtained in practical examinations could either be clubbed with the theory papers, or could be taken separately, if the means and standard deviations for these are also required to be published separately.
The various boards would have no difficulty in publishing the required information because the results in each board is now being prepared on computers. All it requires is a central directive. This is not only the easiest and the most scientific course, but also the only course to set our education system right. This appears to me the means to restore sanity to the admission process, while restoring the dignity of enquiry and curiosity to the process of education.
Indian Coast Guard
2) Naviks (General Duty)
3) Naviks (Domestic Br)
Indian males with specified phys stds
Selection: Written test, Interview & Med Exam.
Details: Employment News (12—18 Mar)/ Website.
Orissa University of Agriculture & Technology, Bhubaneswar 751003
BSc (Agri)/ BVSc & AH/ BTech (Agri Engg)/ BFSc (Fishery Sc)/ BSc (Forestry)
Eligibility: 10+2 (Sc; 50%). Age: 17 yrs (on 31 Dec ‘05).
Selection: Entrance exam.
Application Form: Send Rs 450/- by DD/BC fvg the "Comptroller, OUAT, Bhubaneswar 751003" payable at any Nationalised Bank in Bhubaneshwar to the Assist Registrar (Acad) at above add.
Art & Design
Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology, PO Box 6430, Yelahanka, New Town, Bangalore 560064 (Kar)
1) Foundation Studies
Selection: Entrance Test.
Application Form: Send Rs. 600/- by DD fvg "SRISHTI", payable at Bangalore or download from the website.
IIT Kharagpur, Kharagpur
MTech & MCP (City Planning) in foll Deptt: Aerospace Engg / Arch & Regional Planning / Agri & Food Egg/ Biotech/ Civil Engg/ Chem Engg/ Comp Sc & Engg/ Elect Engg/ Electronics & Elect Comm Engg/ Geol & Geophys/ Humanities & Social Sc/ Indl Engg & Mgt/ Maths/ Mech Engg/ Metallurgical & Materials Engg/ Mining Engg/ Ocean Engg & Naval Arch/ Phy & Meteorol/ Cryogenic Engg/ Materials Sc, Reliability Engg/ Rubber Tech & IT.
Eligibility: BE/ BTech/ BArch/ BPharm or MSc/ MA & AMIE with GATE score.
Application Form: Send Rs 300/- by DD fvg "IIT Kharagpur" payable at Kharagpur to The Chairman, GATE at above add by 6 Apr.
Details: Employment News (Mar 5-11)/ Website.
Institute of Information and Communication Technology, Near Indroda
Circle, Gandhinagar 382007 (Guj)
BTech (4-yr) (Info & Comm Tech)
Eligibility: 10+2 (PMC/Comp Sc); Age: Born on/after 01 Oct. 1980.
Selection: AIEEE ’05 (May 8 ’05)
Application Form: Send Rs 850/- by DD fvg "DA-IICT" payable at A’bad to the above add.
National Institute of
Industrial Engineering, Vihar Lake, PO NITIE, Mumbai-400087 (Mah).
1) PG Dip in Indl Engg (PGDIE) (2 yr)
2) Fellow Prog (Doctoral, FT): OB, OR, Mktg, BPR, TQM, TPM, Personnel Mgt, Ergonomics, Reliability Mgt, Eco, IT, Prodn Mgt, Fin & Accounting, Environ Mgt.
For (1): BE/BTech (1st Div)/ 85 percentile in GATE.
Selection: For (1): GATE Score, GD & Interview. For (2): Acad qual & work ex, seminar presentation & Interview.
Application Form: Send Rs. 1,000/- (For SC/ST: Rs. 500/-) by DD fvg "NITIE Mumbai" payable at Mumbai with 4 self-add stickers to Dep. Registrar (Academic) at above add or apply online.
Centre for Development
of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Anusandhan Bhawan, C-56/1, Sec-62,
Noida-201307 (GoI, M/o Comm & IT)
PG Diploma in Software Enterprise Mgt (1-yr)
Eligibility: BE /BTech /MBA /MCA (60%) & 2 yrs IT industry exposure
Selection: Entrance Test: 05 Jun, GD & Interview
Application Form: Rs. 1,000/- cash at CDAC Front Desk or download.
Electronics Niketan, 6, CGO Complex, New Delhi 110003
DOEACC ‘O’/ ‘A’/ ‘B’/ ‘C’ Level Theory Exams
Application Form: Written request with Rs. 25/- per form by DD fvg "DOEACC" payable at New Delhi superscribe envp "Request for Examination Form".
Board, Chayan Bhavan, Main Rd No 1, Chinar Park (E), Bhopal 462011
BA, LLB (Hons) Entrance Test – 2005
(For National Law Institute Univ, Bhopal)
Eligibility: 10+2 (55%). Age: Below 21 yrs on 1 Jul ’05.
Test: 22 May Application Form: Send request letter with Rs 1,050/- by DD drawn on any Nationalised Bank fvg "Professional Examination Board", Bhopal payable at Bhopal to above add by 20 Mar.
Indian Institute for
Production Management, Kansbahal, Distt. Sundargarh 770034 (Ori).
PG Dip in Engg Mgt (1-yr)
Adv Dip in Maint Mgt & Condition Monitoring; (6-mth).
For 1: BE/BTech
Application Form: Send Rs 250/- by DD fvg "Indian Institute for Production Management" payable at Rourkela to above add/d’load from website. Details: Website.
May 12 International Management Institute IMI), B-10, Qutab Institutional Area, Tara Crescent, New Delhi 110016
PG Prog in Mgt (PGPM) (3-yr, PT)
Eligibility: Bachelor’s deg with 2 yr post deg (FT) wk ex at exec level.
Selection: Admission Test: 15 May & Interview.
Application Form: At Counter: Rs 300/- (By Cash) or download from web.
Indian Institute of
Plantation Management (IIPM), Jnana Bharathi Campus, PO Malathalli,
PG Dip in Agri Business & Plantation Mgt (PGD-ABPM, 15-mnth)
Eligibility: Bachelor’s deg (50%).
Selection: Grads in Agri/allied fields. Comp-based obj test by MANAGE next (May ’05). For others – MAT Score.
Application Form: Send Rs. 700/- by DD fvg "Indian Institute of Plantation Management", payable at Bangalore/ download from web.
Indian Institute of Mass
Communication, Aruna Asaf Ali Marg, New Delhi 110067
1) Journalism (Eng)
2) Journalism (Hin)
3) Radio & TV Journalism
4) Journalism (Oriya)
5) Advertising &
Eligibility: Bachelor’s deg. Dob: 1 Aug ’80 or later.
Selection: Entrance Exam: 20 May & Interview Jul).
Application Form: Send Rs 350/- by DD fvg "IIMC, New Delhi", drawn on a schdld bank with self-add, stamped (Rs 25/-) env (27 x 17 cms) to above add by Apr 08/ d’load from website.
B D Bangur Endowment,
31, Chowringhee Road, Kolkata 700016 (WB)
(For Students pursuing higher studies abroad for Masters/ Doctoral Courses in Sc, Engg, Humanities, Med, Bus Studies, Law, Arch, Media, Design, Art and other professional areas)
Eligibility: Bachelor’s Deg. (I Div); Age: 19 to 30 yrs. For Med: Expd Jr docs.
Application Form: Send bio-data outlining academic achievements, copies of marks sheets, admission letter (if available), attested copy of proof of date of birth, details of existing financial support with a PO (Rs. 30/-) to the offices of the Endowment at above add.
— Pervin Malhotra