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Separate physics & chemistry tests in JEE

- Students who get negative marks in any subject to be excluded from list next year

Calcutta, Nov. 10: The state joint entrance examination board today decided a slew of changes for the 2013 test, such as separate physics and chemistry papers and exclusion of candidates with negative marks from the merit list.

Apart from splitting the combined physics-chemistry paper, the board has increased the weightage given to physics and chemistry to reduce the imbalance with the third subject, mathematics.

This year, candidates had to answer two papers — mathematics, carrying 100 marks, and the combined paper for physics and chemistry, with each of the two subjects carrying 50 marks.

“We will conduct tests of 75 marks each in physics and chemistry in next year’s examination. The mathematics paper will continue to carry 100 marks,” JEE board chairman Bhaskar Gupta said after a meeting of the syllabus committee.

The meeting finalised changes that the board had been mulling for some time.

Academics had been arguing that the existing system gave an unfair advantage to students focusing only on mathematics, and prompted many candidates to neglect physics and chemistry.

“Till now, a student who excelled in mathematics held an edge over someone good in physics or chemistry. But all the three subjects are equally important for pursuing an engineering course. That’s why we have increased the weightage for physics and chemistry,” a syllabus committee member said.

The JEE authorities have also decided to discontinue the practice of awarding ranks to every student taking the exam.

“As the exam consists of multiple-choice questions with negative marks for wrong answers, many candidates end up scoring below zero in a particular subject. From next year, those who score negative marks even in one subject will no longer be included in the merit list,” a board member said.

The syllabus committee member said: “Many teachers have complained that poor-quality students get a chance to study engineering because whoever takes the test has been getting a rank in the past few years. We want to ensure that students who study engineering have the minimum merit to pursue the course.”

Last year, 1.1 lakh students secured admission to the state’s 100-odd engineering colleges.

A Jadavpur University teacher, however, said that merely excluding those who get negative marks in a subject would not improve student quality a great deal.

“Those who get near-zero marks will still feature on the merit list. There should be a cut-off mark,” the teacher said.

The timing and duration of the test too will change from next year. The exam will start at 9.30am instead of 9am and students will get one-and-a-half hours to answer each of the physics and chemistry papers. This year they got one hour for each of the two subjects.