New Delhi, April 10: The IIT-Joint Entrance Examination this year may appear easy to crack at first because of lower cut-off marks, but this is likely to lead to widespread disappointment later as tens of thousands make the merit list but fail to secure seats.
In the past, the Indian Institutes of Technology used to calculate the subject and aggregate cut-offs only after evaluation of the answer sheets, so as to ensure that the number of merit-listed students was roughly 30 per cent more than the seats on offer.
This year, following a Supreme Court directive, the premier tech schools have announced the cut-offs in advance of the exam. They have, therefore, had to leave a substantial comfort margin to allow for the vagaries of exam performances from year to year.
Some academics said the lower cut-offs could lead to this year’s merit list containing up to five or six times the number of students who will eventually be admitted to the about 10,000 available seats.
The IITs have announced that the cut-offs in each subject would be 10 per cent of the total marks for general candidates, nine per cent for the Other Backward Classes and five per cent for the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and physically challenged candidates. The aggregate cut-offs are, respectively, 35 per cent, 31.5 per cent and 17.5 per cent for these three categories. (See chart)
In JEE 2012, conducted last Sunday, Paper I of each subject carried 70 marks and Paper II carried 66 marks. So, the subject cut-offs are 14 marks in each subject (out of 136) for the general category, 13 for OBCs, and seven for SC, ST and physically challenged candidates. The aggregate cut-offs come to 143, 129 and 72, respectively.
A glance at the chart accompanying this report will also show that the aggregate cut-off for the general category is a lot lower this year, percentage wise, compared with the past two years. Even the subject cut-offs are slightly lower.
Of course, a lower cut-off does not necessarily mean that the number of students on the merit list would be higher, for factors such as difficult questions can lead to an overall poor performance by students in a particular year.
However, the consensus among students and coaching centres this year has been that the papers have been all right. So, many academics feel that the new cut-offs will result in a huge gap between demand and supply.
“Each candidate securing marks above the cut-off will get an all-India rank. But the all-India rank will not necessarily ensure a berth in an IIT. Quite a good number of candidates will fail to make it to the IITs even after qualifying in the entrance exam and getting into the merit list,” said IIT-JEE chairman G.B. Reddy.
The institutes have made a contingent plan for these students. The IIT-JEE has signed memoranda of understanding with the Indian Institute of Petroleum, Indian Marine University, Indian Institute of Science (Bangalore) and the Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research to facilitate admission of the merit-listed candidates in these institutions.
The IIT-JEE will share its merit list with these institutions, which will set aside some of their seats for these listed students. IISc Bangalore and the IISERs were part of a similar arrangement last year too but the petroleum institute and marine university have been new inductees.
But before that, wouldn’t the IITs have to wade through a flood of applications from merit-listed candidates for their choice of courses? Reddy suggested that not all these listed students would be allowed to register.
“We will allow double the number of candidates compared with the seats in the general and OBC categories to register for their choice of an IIT course. For the SC and ST category, triple the number of candidates would be allowed to register,” he said.
This means that for the nearly 10,000 seats, about 22,000 will be allowed to register their choice. “Even then, many of the candidates who will be allowed to register may not get admission,” Reddy said.
This is the first time that the IIT-JEE authorities have announced the cut-off marks before the exam, IIT Guwahati director Gautam Baruah said.
He said this had been done in keeping with the Supreme Court’s direction that cut-offs should be announced in advance.
Last August, the Supreme Court had delivered a judgment on a case filed by former IIT Madras director P.V. Indersan, who had questioned the discrepancies among the different ways in which various universities and institutions announced their cut-offs.
The court had ruled that there should be a minimum “qualifying mark” for each entrance exam and that OBC students should get a 10 per cent relaxation compared with the general category.
Indersan said the new cut-off formula was better than the earlier ones. “On the whole, the Supreme Court is likely to accept this,” he said.
Rajiv Kumar, an IIT Kharagpur teacher, had filed another case in the apex court citing certain flaws in the conduct of the IIT-JEE. The court then directed the tech schools to upgrade and fine-tune the selection process every year “so that the selection process and examination remain relevant and meaningful”.
Accordingly, the IITs this year allowed the candidates to take back a carbon copy of their answer sheets and pledged to publish the correct answers on their website within 30 days of the exam so that the students could assess their performance by themselves.
The father of a candidate expressed happiness at the move but regretted the 30-day gap.
“Why can’t the IITs upload the correct answers on the day of the exam or the next day? That would have reduced the stress of the candidates and their parents,” he said.