Tamil Nadu Common Entrance Test (TANCET) – 2006

Never in the history of professional education in Tamil Nadu has there been a year as tumultuous as 2005-06, especially with regard to the conduct of the Tamil Nadu Common Entrance Test (TANCET).

With the state Government scripting a will-it, won’t-it uncertainty, hapless students have been left wondering if there ever would be light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. With the final word yet to be said, Dr.P.V.Navaneethakrishnan, former director of Entrance examinations and Admissions, Anna University, answers questions from Vani Doraisamy on the evolution of the CET in Tamilnadu.

CET was first introduced in 1984 replacing the old system of interview (viva-voce). The then Vice-Chancellor of Anna University, Dr.V.C.Kulandaiswamy, designed and developed the TNPCEE and helped perfect its structure. Except during 1986, when the Tamilnadu Agricultural University was given the mantle, the conduct of CET was always vested with Anna University. During the tenure of M.Anandakrishnan as Vice-Chancellor, the system evolved into its present form.

New System:

From then on, the CET has always been conducted on the penultimate unless there were compelling reasons to change the schedule.

Before 1995, the CET was held after the results of the Plus-Two exams were declared, in the June/July. Though this meant that those who scored very low marks in the Board examination could stay out of CET, it also meant that the admission process itself would start very late and continue even until December. Hence, those who were uncertain of a professional courses seat would also enroll for non-professional courses. With the new system in place since 1995, the TANCET is on during April.

During 1994, only 50,000studentswrote the TANCET and the number doubled after the new system in 1995, a year which is significant in CET history. That was the year when questions were jumbled to avoid malpractices and an undisclosed number of jumbled versions of question papers were prepared and used , without informing the candidate which version he/she was answering. The number of centres was increased from seven to more than 20.

Instructions:

Elaborate instruction booklets were prepared in Tamil and English, and the question paper pattern was completely revised, with now question from the books repeated verbatim. Optical mark readable (OMR) answer sheets were used. These remain unchanged to this day. The single window system (SWS) of admissions was introduced in 1997 by Dr.Anandakrishnan and implemented through Anna University to guarantee opportunities through merit.

TANCET does not cover admission to professional courses in Annamalai University and the deemed universities which conduct their own entrance examination for admission to B.E/B.Tech/B.Pharm/B.Arch in some deemed universities and for some institutions and for some institutions outside Tamilnadu.

Special Quota:

The AIEEE question papers follow the CBSE syllabus of standards XI and XII and no weightage is given for marks obtained in the qualifying examination. Also NRI students are not required to take the TANCETE for engineering courses, but must do so for MBBS/BDS/B.Sc (Nursing) courses.

Till 2001, the physically handicapped quota was meant for three types of impairments: orthopaedically handicapped, hearing impaired and ‘one eyed’ and three percent of seats were reserved for PH candidates. However, due to difficulties in determining those under ‘one eyed’ category, this was excluded from the PH quota by a 2001 GO which also removed the upper limit (70 decibels) on hearing capacity for eligibility of the hearing impaired and creation of separate rosters for the orthopaedically handicapped and the hearing impaired categories.

It has been a fairly smooth sailing for the CET until last year when the State Government decided to do away with it on the grounds that it did not provide educational equity to rural students. Judicial appeals by students set the status quo for last year and the issue had been on he simmer ever since then.

This year, with the State Government enacting a policy announcement banning the CET and with another legal battle ahead, the students can only wait for a resolution at the quickest.

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