Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Gearing up for IIT-JEE
Ashok Chitkara

THE JEE has a long history. It started in the early sixties and evolved over the years. For instance, English was a compulsory paper once upon a time. Later, English, though compulsory, was not in the reckoning for deciding the ranks. Questions in Hindi and an option for answering in Hindi and regional languages were introduced during the eighties. Objective-type questions were a part of the JEE for some time. Screening tests also went through metamorphoses before the present pattern was adopted in 2000. The JEE is well-known for its credibility and the IITs consider the JEE very prestigious.

Changes introduced

The decisions approved by the Ministry of Human Resource Development are:

The JEE will continue to be the sole criterion for ranking the students for admission to IITs, IT-BHU, ISM-Dhanbad and other participating institutes.

School results will be factored into the admission process for the IITs. Only those students who secure a first class or equivalent in the plus two examinations will be eligible for admission to the IITs.

For students belonging to SC/ST, there will be a relaxation of 5 per cent of marks below the level prescribed in the respective examination.

JEE will be a single objective-type examination. The question paper can include a short write-up on a topic in physics, chemistry or even mathematics followed by objective questions that are based on the write-up.

A student can write the JEE in the year in which he/she passes the Class XII examination and/or in the following year.

Those who join any of the IITs, IT-BHU, and ISM-Dhanbad through JEE-2006 will not be permitted to appear for JEE in future.

The procedure will be reviewed after JEE-2006. A one-time exception would be allowed for those who passed their qualifying examination in 2005 or earlier.

Till last year, the prestigious JEE was conducted in two steps, Screening test and Mains.

The screening test was based on objective pattern and the Main Exam on the subjective pattern. As per the new guidelines, there is going to be only one paper, unlike the previous years. Three papers of two hours duration each in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics (purely of objective type) will be conducted.

The new pattern

The IIT-JEE conducted by the IITs is moving towards a single-phase objective-type examination. This pattern is more in line with the existing pattern of the other most prominent national-level engineering entrance examination — the AIEEE. This will benefit the students from the preparation point of view as they have to appear for fewer examinations (with the descriptive second phase of the IIT-JEE now becoming history) and here again they have to prepare for only one type of examination pattern. The notification announcing the changes in the IIT-JEE pattern emphasises the fact that the new pattern will check for aptitude, comprehension and analytical abilities. Now, let us look at these three parameters closely and what they could mean in the new scenario.

All about aptitude

This parameter is expected to measure the basic preparedness of the student to undergo a four-year educational programme of this rigour in the engineering discipline. Aptitude can be checked using different tools. What is being practised at other engineering entrance examinations is linking the academic learning in Classes XI and XII to problem-solving ability; at times using problem-solving tools from related disciplines also.


This checks the students’ ability to fully understand the problem situation and respond to the queries that follow. Here, the key is to conform to the basic logic of the question. Variations from the standard types of questions could mislead the students into "thinking away" from the required logic.

Analytical ability

This implies the ability of the student to extract the explicit and implicit information from the problem situation and then using the same for problem-solving. The quickness of problem-solving will have a direct correlation with this ability to dissect and examine the given situations. If you observe closely, you will find that competences in these parameters are definitely checked in the different types of engineering entrance examinations although this might be done using the different types of questions. This means that there can only be one correct answer or a unique combination of correct answers from the choices.

Tips for aspirants

Students would be better off concentrating on the fundamental concepts of each subject rather than trying to mug up problem patterns.

lClass XI students feel a big difference in the level of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics (PCM) from X to XI. Required effort to get good percentage in XI exams is far more than that needed to get a similar percentage in Class X board exams. The IIT-JEE preparation calls for not only a different approach but a higher level of analytical skills and even greater effort.

lRemember Class XI and XII board exam syllabi for PCM are more or less same as that for IIT-JEE. The difference lies only in approach. If you are thoroughly prepared for IIT-JEE, with a little extra effort, you are bound to do extremely well in XI final and XII board exams too. Vice versa is not true. Even if you have prepared very well in a topic from the Class XI and XII exam point of view, you will still need an intense effort to make sure your preparation is adequate for the IIT-JEE.

lMere understanding of a concept is not adequate. You have to learn to apply these concepts in solving tricky problems. Problems in IIT-JEE are not direct application of a concept. Many IIT-JEE problems involve more than one basic concept.

lDevelop your analytical skills. Do not give up solving a problem after one or two attempts only. It is only by trial and error to solve difficult problems that you can improve your analytical skills.

The writer is founder, Chitkara Institute of Competitions