Sunday, August 07, 2005

JEE: Does it Need Revision?

Lately, there is news floating around in campus that JEE is going to be revamped. What is being said is – that a statistical study was done over the last seven years’ data and it was found that there is a strong correlation between the board exam results of students and their CPI in IIT and no correlation between AIR and CPI. In this light, why not revise JEE and let is take account of the board exam results too. Now I don’t know the details of this study but would still atempt to make some analyses.

  1. The students entering IITs through JEE are not equitably distributed into branches. While taking admission there are always something called good branches – like CSE and EE these days – and bad branches like Civil or pure sciences these days. High rankers go into “good” branches and the low rankers into the “bad” ones. However, once into their departments the students are graded relative to their peers in their own departments. This is true at least in last two years of a B. Tech. program when most of the courses done are departmental. Relative grading implies that most students would get a CPI of 6.5 to 7.5 because C is the grade you get if you are average. So the average guy in CSE gets the same CPI as the average guy in Civil. However, there is a huge difference in their AIRs. Thus the correlation is spoilt.
  2. The study has been done in the past seven years. This is the time when the coaching culture and the IIT hype has reached its high in India. In such a scenario the high AIR of a student implies that he’s worked harder than he deserves to get into IIT. The higher the rank, the more burnt out and unmotivated the student is. He’s already worked so much that he does not want to work anymore. Result – low CPI of a high ranking individual.

Apart from this, I also find a similarity between the school education pattern and the IIT education and JEE stands entirely different.

  1. School students are used to a pattern of quarterly, half-yearly and annual examination. So although, Board Exam is stand alone, it does not feel like one. IITs also have the pattern of quizzes, mid-sems and end sems. JEE on the other hand is a one day match (rather a two day match if you count screening as well).
  2. Board Exams are not competitive exams, neither are the sem exams at the IITs. JEE is. During JEE there is a strong feeling of “defeating others”.
  3. Board Exams have some practical component. IITs have practical component. JEE does not.
  4. There is lot of transparency in Board Exams. Teachers and students both know what will be asked in the exam and what is expected. The exam is neither mysterious nor secretive. IIT sem exams are similar in nature. Most of the time the professor makes sure that the students know what is expected and required of them. JEE on the other hand is the most mysterious and non-transparent exam that I’ve seen. No “model” question and answers are prepared by the IIT. The pattern keeps varying each year. It is never known to the students what they are supposed to know or what is expected of them. There is a lot of secrecy surrounding JEE.
  5. There a no “droppers” in the Board Exam. Most people give the exam only once. Similarly the most students do a course only once in the IITs. They don’t repeat it over and over again. JEE however, has a large number of “droppers” appearing – people who have made multiple attempts at the Exam. Over the years they might have become proficient at cracking the exam rather than having developed an understanding of the subject.

In view of the above points I’d say that making JEE more transparent would be a good reform. Tell the students what they are expected to know, what they are being tested for and what they are supposed to write in the exam.

Please do not bar droppers from appearing for the exam which I think would be grossly unfair!

Also I don’t think that taking Board Exams into account is a good idea for JEE for the following reasons.

  1. There is a lot of variation in the grading. CBSE itself admits the fact. The Board Exam score does not depict the actual ability of the student. (That can be said about JEE or any other exam too.)
  2. The Board Exam curriculum is not in line with the abilities that are required in IITs. The IIT system requires extensive problem solving abilities but the Board Exam does not prepare the student for it.

Again, I don’t know the details of the statistics so many of my views can be stupid but I sincerely hope they help. I don’t like the coaching culture at all and its in common interest that something is done about it.


  1. I am not happy with the coaching culture either. But I don't know what the solution is. The bottom line is that there are approx. 2 lakh people competing for 4000 seats.

  2. i ma also against this coaching culture . i feel that the pattern should be changed in such a manner that guys who are extremely smart , and are ready for hard work - only they should be allowed to enter.board results are not a solution . the profs ought to be smart enough to come up with a new pattern . also , guys dropping more than 1 year ought to be barred - they generally lower the levels.

  3. Well, I think the new JEE pattern is quite appropriate.

    Many of us have a feeling that JEE has made IIT what it is today. It's not all correct.. any institute can set up a exam more tougher than JEE.. that does not mean it will excel...for example there are other institutes which admit students through JEE.. they have not matched IIT standard..

    secondly, who makes it to IIT ? basically people who can afford JEE training, may be at Kota or elsewhere.. that to after 2-3 yrs preparation.. they say "school ke baad JEE kar raha hun"...nobody knows for how many years they do JEE..what is the average age of students joining IIT..

    JEE is just like any other exam..the standard of JEE and IIT standard are not directly proportional. Similarly many institutes admit students thru CAT but they are not IIMs.

    Finally it makes sense giving weightage to school education and board exam.