70,000 more Students take IIT Joint Entrance Exams

70,000 more Students take IIT Joint Entrance Exams

The competition for seats at the seven Indian Institutes of Technology could be tougher than ever, with 70,000 more applicants competing this year for the 5,500 seats at stake.

About 3.2 lakh students across the country wrote the IIT Joint Entrance Examination (IIT-JEE) on Sunday, compared to the 2.52 lakh students last year.

Bucking that trend was Chennai, where only 5,450 students wrote the examination in 13 centres across the city, compared to about 6,000 applicants last year.

This year’s question paper followed the pattern introduced last year, with two sessions of three hours each, both testing students in mathematics, physics and chemistry.

Many students found the first session easier than the second. “I came out from the morning paper very happy, since I knew most of the answers.

I thought IIT had given us a soft version of the JEE. But then in the afternoon, IIT proved that it is keeping its standards up as usual,” said Ragesh, a Chennai student who aspires for a career in aeronautical engineering.

Many students felt that while the chemistry section was relatively easier and physics was moderate, it was a different story with mathematics.

“Maths was really challenging, the questions were not very direct,” said Ajay, a candidate who already follows the IIT mantra of terming a problem “challenging” rather than “difficult.”

Coaching institutes confirmed students’ perceptions. “The maths paper had significantly more complex questions. It was also lengthier,” said S. Balasubramanian, director of T.I.M.E. institute.

According to the institute’s analysis, the last qualifying score this year is likely to be around 34 per cent.

The only change in the paper pattern was a “student-friendly” move to tweak the “match the following” questions, according to Pawan Kumar, a faculty member at the FIITJEE training institute.

“Earlier, even if one match was wrong, the student would lose all marks for that section. This time, he will get marks for whichever matches he gets right,” he explained.

There were various theories floating around about the reason for the increased number of applicants. Several people pointed out that there had been a decline last year due to the ruling restricting IIT-JEE attempts to two.

However, this year’s candidates exceed the 2006 figure as well. IIT-JEE (south zone) chairman S. Sankararaman said the extended merit list system could be the reason.

Candidates who did not qualify for the common merit list cut-off for the IITs, the Institute of Technology at Banares Hindu University and the Indian School of Mines University would now be put on a list with a relaxed aggregate cut-off

which would be used for admissions to several other premier institutions, including the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology and the five Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research.

If any of the eight new IITs pledged by the Prime Minister become operational this academic year, this would also add more seats to the kitty. Dr. Sankararaman said the new IIT in Andhra Pradesh was expected to open its doors this year, with 120 additional seats.