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New avatar on cards for IIT entrance in 2017

IITs, Human Resources Ministry aim to cut down on coaching culture, and attract students with scientific aptitude

Kalpana Pathak  |  Mumbai 

IITs to introduce aptitude testing for JEE

Come 2017, the Indian Institute of Technology Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE) could have a new avatar.

Those aspiring to get admission in the premier engineering institutes will have to take an aptitude test that will evaluate their scientific mettle and innovative-thinking ability. The online test may be offered twice or more times a year. National Testing Service (NTS) — the agency that will conduct the test — will be set up in 2016.

A member of the Committee of Eminent Persons (CEP) said the purpose of the test was to discourage students from mugging up or joining coaching classes, as is now the norm.

The committee chaired by Ashok Misra, a senior academic, was constituted on October 6 and submitted its recommendations to the Centre on November 5. The changes in the JEE have been mooted by the committee.

The IITs and the Union human resource development ministry have been concerned about the practice of aspiring techies increasingly joining coaching classes to crack the challenging entrance exams.

“The idea is to discourage the culture of joining coaching classes. A test that evaluates scientific aptitude could keep students and their parents away from coaching classes because one cannot be trained in aptitude,” said a member of the committee, who did not want to be named.

The government has decided to keep the committee’s recommendations in the public domain for consultation with stakeholders.

Students would get admission to the 19 IITs based on the test conducted by NTS.

A CEP member said the inspiration for the aptitude test was the SAT, which students in the United States take to get admission in colleges. SAT tests high school students in literacy and writing skills.

When the aptitude test is introduced, the JEE (Mains) — the first round of tests for admission to IITs — would be done away with. Those qualifying the aptitude test would take the JEE (Advanced).

“The details will have to be worked out. There will be a cut off to qualify for the JEE (Advanced),” said a committee member.

Coaching institutes, however, are of the opinion that the change to JEEs will hardly affect their business.

Pramod Maheshwari the chief executive of Career Point, a popular Kota-based coaching institute said the government should stop tinkering with the IIT-JEE.

“The new aptitude test is unlikely to discourage students from flocking to coaching institutes,” he said, adding that more students could now seek training to crack the aptitude tests.

In a bid to discourage students from enrolling in coaching institutes, the government had changed the format of the IIT-JEE — dividing it into the Mains and the Advanced. This was done on the recommendation of a committee chaired by Idi Chandy, a senior professor of IIT-Madras.

The change, claim coaching centre owners, has, however, failed to stem the flow of students to their doors. “We have seen an increase of 25 per cent in admission since 2012,” said Maheshwari.

The human resource ministry is, however, keen to implement the new changes. In a statement on Saturday, the ministry said the entrance exam follow the pattern of the current JEE (Advanced), and would test the knowledge of the students in physics, chemistry and mathematics. It will be conducted by the IITs. The statement said the IITs have been requested to set up a system for developing mock-JEEs help students prepare for the admission tests and wean them away from the “coaching industry”.

The ministry will also take measure to improve school education and the pattern of examinations conducted by the different boards so that students develop a scientific mettle by the time they are in Class XII, without depending on coaching institutes.

Till 2016-17, when the aptitude test could be introduced, the two-level JEE would continue. The top 200,000 students from JEE (Main) would be allowed to take the JEE (Advanced). About 40,000 students will qualify JEE (Advanced) and joint counseling for the IITs and the NITs would continue, as it was done last year.

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First Published: Sat, November 07 2015. 23:35 IST