Most of the students preparing for the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) next year, and their guardians, are opposed to the new format of multiple-choice questions.
A few of them are even planning to move court to scuttle the JEE board's move, aimed at making the test 'more competitive'.
The decision to switch from the essay-type to multiple-choice questions was announced a few days ago.
More than 70,000 students ' about 30,000 from Calcutta and its suburbs ' will sit for the JEE 2006. Most of them claim to be in the dark about what to expect in the question papers. Since 1978, when the Higher Secondary (HS) examination was introduced, no books on the Plus-II curriculum have been published in the multiple-choice format, they point out.
The JEE board is likely to come up with model question-answer papers next month, but students feel they will not be left with much time to tune themselves to the new system, especially since HS questions will remain essay-type.
'My son is going to appear for the JEE and the HS next year. He does not have time to prepare for multiple-choice questions,' said ENT surgeon Arunavo Sengupta.
Several guardians have come together to move court against the board. 'They are extremely peeved with the way the board has jeopardised the fate of thousands of students. I have taken their brief,' said Allauddin Mondol, a lawyer of the high court.
Most JEE officials are tight-lipped about the new format. 'We will not say anything now. All we can say is that students cannot study selectively now. They need to have a thorough knowledge of each topic,' said a JEE board spokesman.
With the board silent on what will be asked of the candidates, Metro has obtained a copy of a multiple-choice question/answerscript of a medical entrance test for NRI-quota students. Around 1,200 students sat for the test in 2003, held at SSKM Hospital and Midnapore Medical College and Hospital.
They were handed over question/answerscripts with 200 questions. Each query had four probable answers, and the candidates were to select the correct one.
Rumours were doing the rounds before the test that the questions would be easy as the applicants would be paying a few lakhs each, but most of the posers, according to both students and teachers, were quite tough.
Some of the questions were set on topics that were not covered in HS books. The students were asked, for instance, on isolation of cell organelles, the name of a membrane that holds the ovary, or the causes of presbiopia (eye problems).
Questions in physics and chemistry, too, were equally tricky.
As no one is sure what the multiple-choice questions will be like, private tutors are advising students to go for intensive study. 'The books should be of the highest standard and students need to study them thoroughly,' said A.K. Maiti, who runs a coaching centre for JEE aspirants.
Another such tutor, Asit Roy, said: 'Most of my students are clueless about how to prepare. I am trying to get in touch with JEE board for some information.'