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The MHRD (Ministry of Human Resource Development) has already implemented a major change of conducting the JEE (Joint Entrance Examination) Main test twice from 2019 and another critical proposal for the engineering aspirants is about to get underway. There is a proposed move to discontinue the JEE Advanced, which has so far been the main evaluation criteria for admission to the undergraduate engineering courses at the various Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).
Although the decision is not finalized yet, but the same will be discussed in the IIT council meeting to be held on August 21, 2018. The meeting is intended to discuss the pros and cons associated with the proposed act and further to evaluate the feasibility of its implementation.
The proposal, if approved, may surely be a historical and transformational decision to streamline and regulate the highly reputed engineering institutions of the country in a better way. Apart from scrapping down the JEE Advanced exam, it would also be proposed for the IITs to turn the undergraduate engineering B.Tech. courses to the elevated engineering courses.
The number of semesters in the new postgraduate engineering courses at the IITs may also be altered, which would enable the students to achieve world-class engineering education in the least possible time. Additionally, the IITs are currently educating around 10,000 aspirants every year through their undergraduate engineering courses, while the new system would allow around 80,000 aspirants in materializing their dream of studying engineering from an IIT.
The discussed proposals have been put up based on the feedback provided by some veteran professors of the IITs, as confirmed by media reports. Those would surely refrain the students from undergoing private coaching courses, which would burden down their parents for several lakhs bucks to make them qualify the JEE Advanced exam.
To join expensive coaching courses was indeed an unaffordable deal for so many meritorious students across the country. Many families, still, have been observed to take loans to facilitate their children to undergo coaching for JEE Main and JEE Advanced exams from reputed coaching institutes at multiple locations in India.
When over 11 lakhs candidates appear generally in these exams to qualify for just around 10,000 seats at the IITs, the heavy expenditures incurred in the coaching classes would put up lots of pressure on the students hailing from economical weaker families. The new model would consider only the JEE Main scores of the students to offer them admissions to the engineering courses at the IITs.
New Criteria for Admission to IITs
It is assumed that the top scorers of the JEE Main entrance examination would be eligible for the counselling for admissions to the courses at the IITs and other reputed engineering institutions across the country without undergoing any further test or interview. Additionally, the qualifying candidates would be categorized into ten groups based on their scores in the JEE Main exam.
For instance, the first group would include the candidates scoring marks above 90%, the second may include those scoring marks between 80 – 90%, and so on. The candidates belonging to each group would hold same position for attending the counselling for admissions to the IITs.
The revamp of education pattern at the IITs would also introduce a concept of ‘One Semester IIT Experience’ for transforming those to global high-end education providers. Based on it, the B.Tech. course at the IITs would be dismantled, and further upgraded to One Semester IIT Experience.
Those students, who would attain the One Semester IIT Experience based on their scores from the fifth to eighth semesters at the IITs, would be awarded with an engineering degree from the associated universities. Additionally, they would be preferred for admissions to the postgraduate engineering courses offered at the IITs.
The new examination conducting authority, National Testing Agency (NTA), would coordinate JEE Main exam twice every year starting 2019 and takeover all the responsibilities from CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) who previously managed JEE Main and several national level engineering exams.
With the newly commissioned NTA (National Testing Agency) at the helm of managing premier engineering and medical entrance examinations besides others, several changes in the scenario are in the offering. In a press release dated July 7, 2018, the autonomous body announced its initiatives that are in the pipeline to bring about a qualitative difference in the examination was conducted till now. The most prominent and laudable of the initiatives is the plan to set up a network of approximately 3000 practice centers in rural areas to make local JEE Main and NEET aspirants well acquainted with the online examination system.
Educational establishments with computer labs will be identified for the setting up of these new Practice Centers. Candidates can access these centers free of cost to practice computer-based tests in the lines of JEE Main and NEET (UG) free of cost. The Agency plans to keep these Practice centers operational on Saturdays and Sundays starting from the 3rd week of August 2018. NTA will also launch a mobile app which will help candidates identify the nearest center in the locality and register themselves to book Practice Sessions.
National Testing Agency –#NTA has started its work. It will conduct NEET(UG), JEE(Main), UGC-NET, CMAT & GPAT examinations. Millions of students to benefit.@narendramodi #Transformingeducation #48MonthsOfTransformingIndia pic.twitter.com/MLq9GzRpGL
— Prakash Javadekar (@PrakashJavdekar) July 7, 2018
Given that 2019 onwards exams like JEE Main and NEET (UG) are switching completely to the online mode, this endeavor of the Agency will be very beneficial for candidates, specifically those who are from a rural background and have no or minimal access to computers. The Practice Centers are an attempt to provide an adequate chance to such aspirants to acclimatize with an online examination mode. The candidates who book practice sessions will be allotted one-hour slots each to write a real computer-based examination at the centers.
NTA has not planned any changes in the examination fees, question pattern, number or difficulty level of questions except for the complete switch to the online mode of exam. It is worthwhile to mention here that 2019 onwards both JEE Main and NEET (UG) will be held twice a year to ease the performance pressure on candidates. NTA has also clarified that
JEE Main is tentatively slated to be held in January and April while NEET (UG) has been scheduled for February and May in 2019. The first phase of JEE Main is scheduled tentatively from January 06 to January 20 while the second stage is slated from April 07 to April 21.
The complete switchover to nline examination is to avoid logistics issues like the paper leak or shortage of question papers. Also, the switch to online mode will make evaluation easier and error-free. However, as per statistics, the number of test–takers opting for the online mode when both online and offline examinations were in practice, shows a grim picture as to how uncomfortable the candidates are to attempt the computer-based test. In 2018, of 11.5 lakh candidates that registered for JEE Main, only 2.25 lakh opted for the CBT while in 2017, of 12 lakh applicants only 1.8 lakh opted for the online test. In both years, the rest of the applicants chose to take the customary paper-based test. Under the circumstances, NTA’s decision to set up the practice centers for pre-examination practice test session will certainly be of huge help to future aspirants of JEE Main and NEET (UG).
The centers that would be utilized as Practice Centers by NTA may or may not be designated as exam centers for the conduction of the entrances. There has been no disclosure from the Agency’s side in this context.
NTA (National Testing Agency) is the newly formed body by centre to conduct JEE main and NEET online from next year, taking over the management of these exams from CBSE. Education minister, Prakash Javadekar confirmed all the confusions with the announcement, “NTA to conduct JEE-main 2019” in an official press conference on July 07 at New Delhi.
Changes to be Implemented with the Introduction of NTA
- Candidates can appear for JEE Main in online mode only, no option for pen and paper based test.
- Double the chance, more opportunity, NTA to conduct tests like JEE Main and NEET twice a year.
- The test will be held in 8 sittings giving aspiring candidates ample opportunity to pick the desirable slot for appearing.
- With JEE (main) taking place in January and April , students appearing for board exams will have more time to prepare for their entrance exam.
- According to the education minister, Javadekar, “…the best of the two scores will be taken into account for the result.” In case a student appears for both the attempts in the same year.
- NTA is going to conduct tests like UGC NET, NEET (UG), JEE MAIN, CMAT, GPAT etc, that were earlier handled by CBSE and AICTE.
- 3000 centres for JEE aspirants to train them for computer based examination, which will be functiona by the end of August, 2018.
- Normalization process will be adopted for the calculation of scores to have fair results.
Reactions from Students
All these changes have left the aspiring candidates anxious, dubious and confused. Every person has something to say about this change. Some students seemed happy and jovial while the others have not been able to grasp the situation completely.
However, most students are happy with the fact that now they will be getting two chances to sit for the exam and that also in the same year. Such a decision gives them more opportunities to perform well.
“I am overjoyed. This is the most important examination of our lives and we are all working very hard to do well. But we all have bad days. The new reform has given me encouragement that all will not be lost if I do not get through in the first try,” Deepak Kumar exclaimed as covered by News18.
When some students were seen celebrating NTA’s decision, some students were seen asking practical questions like the number of attempts.
Prince Singh, an aspiring candidate for 2019 NEET took twitter’s help to ask the education minister about the examination being conducted in 8 sittings and requested him for not doing so. His claim is that it will lead to chaos and confusion. The uniformity will be lost that is supposed to be the USP of such JEE MAIN and NEET.
Some of the students taking coaching from institutes like Akash and Fitjee are against the system. According to them, instead of simplifying the process, government is making it all the more complicated.
Students were seen questioning the govt. There seems to be no effort on the part of govt. to improve the student’s quality. The question of unemployment also got explored by some students. Will there be enough vacancies for more candidates? If not, there will be more students, less seats, which will lead to direct unemployment.
Reactions from Experts
Experts are dealing with the change positively as well as they believe this move is going to benefit the country’s education system and institutes with more efficient candidates.
The news covered by News18 saw Mr. RK Mishra, director and HOD of Physics at ‘The Guidance Classes’ in Kalu Sarai exclaiming, “It is a speaking good news for weaker students and the timing is also perfect. Earlier the JEE main entrance was held right after class 12 boards and thus students would often be divided between devoting time to boards and to JEE preparation. Now the exams are more easily timed and students can actually get some time to breathe.”
Tamil Nadu government is already against this change and leader of the opposition party exclaimed that, “The proposal to hold NEET online is a conspiracy to make medical education remain out of reach of rural students.”
Another big change is that JEE main will be online from the next session. The education minister personally tweeted about the advantage of such a system. He tweeted, “…it will make exams safe, leak proof, scientific and transparent”.
With the test being online, it will be more efficient with no wastage of paper and ink, it is easier to change your answer online, without putting in much effort.
- It will be difficult for students with no prior knowledge of computer system.
- Students with relatively less affluent financial background are going to suffer
- A student studying at a coaching institute in Kota exclaimed, “even now we have to go to cyber cafes to even fill the form because of lack of technological knowledge.”
The training centres will be functional from August. The big questions is whether NTA will be able to bridge this gap between urban and rural area students? Is it going to be fair for students coming from different financial and geographical backgrounds?
No matter who conducts the test and in whatever mode it is being conducted, the most important thing to ensure here is that the performance of not even a single candidate should be hampered, no excuses should be given on the part of the government or the new governing body regarding that.
The question whether NTA is the right choice or not will be answered shortly as January is not that far and lastly to all the candidates just do your best, study well, one can tackle any problem if the preparation done is up to the mark. All the best and let us all hope for the best.