Apprehensions abound regarding recommended changes in IIT-JEE

The latest report submitted by a Committee
of Eminent Persons constituted by the IIT Council has suggested the
introduction of aptitude test for admission to the IITs. It has taken the
student community by storm, with anxious reactions emerging from all quarters.
The Committee has suggested that the test should be along the lines of the
Scholastic Aptitude test (SAT) conducted in the US, prior to appearing for the
IIT-JEE. A National Testing Service will be formed in 2016 to conduct this
aptitude test.

In 2015, of the 1,17,238 students
who appeared for JEE (Advanced), about 26,364 students were eligible for
admission to the IITs. In 2016 and 2017, the JEE (Mains) & JEE (Advanced) will
be conducted as is, except for the following: the number of
students eligible to appear for JEE (Advanced) will increase from 1.25 lakh to
2 lakh; and the number of students being given a JEE (Advanced) rank will
increase to 40,000 from 25,000. However, from 2018, about 4 lakh students will be shortlisted
based on their performance in the aptitude test, for the JEE, which will be on
the lines of the current JEE (Advanced).

PaGaLGuY spoke to coaching
centres about the aptitude test to be introduced in 2017. Pramod Maheshwari of
Career Point, Kota says that the aptitude test sought to be introduced will
serve no purpose and only increase the burden on students. Most coaching institutes
that PaGaLGuY spoke to feel the same way as Maheshwari does.

Praveen Tyagi of IITians Pace
(Mumbai) has, on the other hand, a different perspective on the issue. “The
focus should rather be on school education,” he says. “By equating high fees
and rote learning in coaching classes, the competence of students is being
questioned. It also means to undermine teaching as a handsomely paying
profession. When parents agree to pay such high fees, they definitely expect
difficult concepts to be tackled properly in the classroom.” Tyagi suggested
that the policymakers should be more considerate and involve all stakeholders
like students, teachers and parents in the policy process. He vividly added
that the problem lies in the education that is currently imparted in schools,
which is what should be changed.

Deepak Sonje, an engineering
graduate from Pune, on the contrary, feels that the increase in the number of
colleges in the recent times has affected the quality of engineers that graduate
from engineering colleges. So, the introduction of aptitude test will hopefully
correct the anomaly. He added further that, “Universities keep changing the
exam pattern as per their wishes, resulting in students working only to clear
the exam, with no practical knowledge being gained. A test in which students
compete with each other for engineering aptitude makes sense.”

The speculations around the changed pattern
will only rest once there is some clarity about the exact nature of questions
and the time allotted for the test.