A shining star in Madhyamik 2003, fading out in Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) 2005 ' Soumyajit De, who topped the Class X exams two years ago, is now picking up the pieces of his competitive exam dreams.
And Soumyajit is not alone. Hundreds of students, especially from the districts, who pass Madhyamik with flying colours, more often than not crashland when it comes to the JEE arena.
N.R. Banerjee, vice-chancellor of JEE Board, told Metro that students do not seem to be reading the texts thoroughly.
'I wouldn't like to comment why meritorious students are failing in JEE, because it is up to the government to decide, but students must study textbooks thoroughly also, which does not seem to be happening,' said Banerjee.
Take Debojit Saha, who stood second in Madhyamik 2003, but could only manage a poor 1,101 rank in the medical stream of JEE 2005 and an even poorer 3,500 in the engineering stream.
'I am gearing up for next year. I had answered every question, but the answers did not seem to satisfy the JEE examiners. Now I am following books that are of the highest quality,' said Debojit.
'We want students to give us a precise answer. We want them to explain everything logically and not just rattle off things like they do in other (school-leaving) exams,' said a senior JEE official.
Stumped by his poor JEE scores, Madhyamik first boy Soumyajit is now preparing for the IIT exams. 'He was confident of a good show and did not put much effort into JEE preparations. Nobody was also around to tell him what to write and which book to follow. This, perhaps, backfired, but he is now more careful,' said mother Bula De.
Cashing in on the confusion are coaching centres. 'Every year, I get at least 200 students who, despite doing extremely well in Madhyamik and Higher Secondary, fare poorly in JEE. There seems to be no one to tell students what books to follow or how to frame their answers,' said Amiya Maiti, founder of AK Maiti Educational Foundation, which coaches JEE aspirants.
A 'strictly confidential' note to JEE examiners obtained by Metro states how the exam lays more emphasis on quality books being followed and precise answers being churned out. The note starts off with a request to all examiners to 'kindly follow the instructions in toto'.
A case in point ' answering a JEE question, a candidate wrote that tibia and fibula are two leg bones, but the model answer to the question, as per JEE guidelines, should have been that 'tibia and fibula are two leg bones, extending from the knee to the ankle and lying side by side'.
According to guidance expert Maiti, 'most HS-recommended books would have answers that would not satisfy JEE examiners'.