One stop – single examination for IIT entrance

It is accepted unarguably that IIT JEE (Indian Institute of Technology – Joint Entrance Examination) is one of the toughest examinations in the entire world. The acceptance rate used to be 1 in 100 (2,000 seat for 2,00,000 participants) although, lately, they are working on doubling the seats. Last time I found out, the number of seats had grown to 3000 and they were still working on increasing it. And the quality of questions are so high that one just need to score around 35-40% (or even less) to make it to one of the IITs.

JEE started as just a single exam with subjective and objective questions intermingled in the question paper but they changed it some 6 years back with a screening exam followed by the main exam for those who cleared the former. It, definitely, gave some tough times to the aspirants and was cause of many a cases of depression / discouragement for those not being able to clear the screening test. The following news is a good one as IITs have decided to merge the two in one. An excerpt:

It’s celebration time for IIT aspirants. The hard-to-crack entrance examination, IIT-JEE , just got simpler. Beginning ’06, the two-step entrance β€” screening and main β€” examination will be replaced by a single exam. Just so that students take their board exams seriously, a first class in their class twelve board exams will be mandatory to appear for the IIT-JEE. Moreover candidates will be allowed only two attempts at the IIT-JEE.

I like this pattern because of following reasons:

1. Just having 1 exam instead of 2 (screening and main)
2. Minimum marks in the school-leaving exam (class 12th) is 60% now – this will force people to take up their school exams a bit more seriously.
3. Only 2 attempts for the JEE: Excellent step. There is no point in somebody wasting a lot of time for just 1 exam.
4. Somebody who is already in IIT can’t take up the exam again: Again a good step. If you don’t want to join a course / institute and are doing it just for another year of preparation, don’t waste the seat that another person will be more than glad to have.

Reasons that I don’t like this pattern for:

1. Simplifying the syllabus / paper and asking only objective questions: I have always been in favor of the IIT entrance question papers to be tough. Making the question papers / syllabus easy will only test the speed and accuracy (great!) of the person and not the real intellect / analytical skills. The idea of IIT, to begin with, was always to produce more scientists than engineers and steps like this will only weaken the implementation of that idea.

Lastly, they will re-evaluate the entire thing after JEE ’06 – which can only be a good thing. I will be eager to know what others think about this.

Cricket: Balancing power

I followed the current Ashes series between Australia and England with a greater curiousity than I followed the triangular series involving India, New Zealand and Zimbabwe. The reason was the superlative performance by the English team, and especially 2 folks: Andrew Flintoff and KP Pietersen. Result: England regaining the series after almost 16 years. Now, 16 years is a long enough time for a lot of people to give up – but not the current England team. Lately, Australia have been in the habit of winning – a very dangerous habit of winning all the test series in the last few years. India did give them a hard time and also managed to break their winning streak once but, overall, Australia was a far superior team than any other team.

This victory of England over Australia makes me happy. Not because I like the England team more than Australia or vice-versa but because I see yet another team who has the balls to take on Australia in a test series. Happy because this would only mean balancing of cricketing powers and, hopefully, fewer one-sided matches. Happy because, again hopefully, I get to see some less arrogance from a few members of the Australian team. Happy because the other team will, hopefully, not get as intimidated by the Australian team as has become the norm.

Now that I am on the topic of cricket – I can’t stop mentioning how hurt I was when I read an article in today’s newspaper that there is again a doubt on whether the last tri-series involving India, New Zealand and Zimbabwe was fixed or not. I think it’s actually a good sign that I still get hurt when I read news of this kind – I only fear that I will start ignoring all this if this starts becoming more frequent.

BTW, I did receieve a few compliments for the current theme at my blog. To be fair (under pressure :-)), let me pass on the compliments to Madhavi for the photo at the top. This was a photo that was taken by her and edited by me to fit this blog.