Divide and train; A strategy by IIT-JEE coaching institutes

Major IIT coaching institutes in the country like Allen, Career Point, Motion, Bansal, Aakash, etc are known for producing top rankers in JEE every year. Most of the credit for this achievement may be attributed to the teaching techniques and faculty. However, many of these classes also indulge in  a process of student segregation on the basis of calibre. The intelligent and average students are clubbed in separate batches and treated to different levels of academic training. It is this batch that eventually becomes the identity of these students and shapes their IIT dream. Here is a three part series exploring this act of divide, how it affects students and the culture of IIT coaching at large. 

Some renowned coaching classes conduct an entrance exam to admit students in their JEE preparation programmes. Based on the ranks procured in this exam, students are usually divided into batches. For e.g. IITian’s Pace, Mumbai has 10 batches; XL, XL1, XL2, XL3, 4, 5, 6, and so on in descending order of student intelligence. Thus, the smartest students are placed in XL or XL1 and the average students form batches 9 and 10. 

Ashish Gupta, MD, Bansal Classes, Jaipur, says, “This system has been followed since many years wherein the top 50-60 ranks in our entrance exam are clubbed in one batch. These students are considered to have higher chances of getting top ranks in the JEE.” Bansal Classes is known to have started this trend of student segregation. According to Gupta, earlier there were limited number of seats in coaching institutes which made it easier to manage a single batch of 200-300 students. Teachers could personally keep a track of each student’s performance. However, over the years, increasing number of students are admitted to the classes from niche corners of the country with different academic backgrounds. Hence student segregation has made it easier to differentiate between student competencies. 

Some institutes which do not use the entrance exam system for segregation, form batches during the course of the JEE preparation programme. Sagar Singh, a student of IITian’s Pace, says, “The process of student segregation starts from the first day of classes itself. We were told in the orientation session that our performance would be evaluated for 6 months and then we would be divided into batches.” Sagar is currently in batch XL3 which is the 4th batch in descending order of ranks. 

Students say that every 3-6 months, practice tests are conducted and their cumulative marks decide  whether they stay at the same level of batch or get promoted to a higher level. However, Suparna Ghosh, another student of IITian’s Pace, says, “It is very unlikely for a student to be promoted or relegated in class. The first segregation will stick with you until the last day of coaching.” In some coaching classes, the criteria to promote to a higher level is too tough to achieve. Nitin Vijay, MD, Motion Classes, says, “Students should consistently score high marks in all the tests to be able to move up in the hierarchy.” Career Point, Kota, has no procedure whatsoever to transfer students between batches. The only time students are transferred to another batch is when the faculty in-charge decides to do so, which is very rare. 

While the fees charged by the institute remains constant throughout all batches, the pattern and faculty of teaching varies based on the quality of students. However, by the end of the year, most students identify themselves with the batch they are placed in. These batches shape the students’ mentality of achieving an IIT seat or a JEE rank. Most coaching institutes PaGaLGuY spoke to agreed that students in the top batches have higher probabilities of being top rankers in JEE and hence are given better motivation and tougher training. 

You can read the second part of this series here. 

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