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Zero cut-off for engineering

- JEE medical candidates to be assessed in terms of percentage

Calcutta, March 22: The Bengal joint entrance examination board will award ranks to all candidates taking the engineering entrance test this year but a student will have to score at least zero to be called for counselling.

General-category students taking the medical exam will have to score at least 50 per cent both in their Class XII board exams and the JEE to be called for counselling. Those from the SC, ST and OBC categories must score at least 40 per cent in both exams.

Bhaskar Gupta, the chairman of the West Bengal Joint Entrance Examination Board, today said that candidates would have to score “positive marks” in the engineering entrance exam to be called for the centralised counselling conducted by the board.

Unlike last year, the names of candidates scoring negative marks will figure in the merit list even though they will not be eligible for the board-conducted counselling.

As many as 169,828 students will take the joint entrance engineering and medical examinations, which will be held on April 19 and 20. The board has rejected an appeal by some churches and a Christian organisation to revise the dates as they coincide with Easter.

In 2012, the joint entrance board had awarded ranks to all the students who had taken the engineering test and had allowed those who had scored negative marks to participate in the centralised counselling.

As the move was criticised for “allowing less meritorious students to study engineering”, the board in 2013 awarded ranks to only those candidates who had scored at least zero in that year’s exam.

Chairman Gupta today said the board had decided to reintroduce the 2012 system following a demand by some students who said every candidate who appeared in a competitive exam had the right to know his or her rank.

A source in the higher education department said the government had not closed the door on the possibility of allowing private engineering colleges to call students scoring less than zero for counselling. The government has the power to issue a special order allowing individual private institutions to do so.

“The final decision will be taken depending on the situation and the number of seats remaining vacant after the centralised counselling conducted by the board,” a government source said.

Board chairman Gupta today clarified that students taking the medical entrance exam would be ranked in terms of the percentage they score, not percentile marks as mentioned in the brochure.

The brochure had mentioned that general-category students would have to score at least 50 percentile marks in the Class XII exams and JEE, and that SC, ST and OBC students must get at least 40 percentile to be eligible for counselling.

Percentile marks were considered in the Medical Council of India-conducted National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test, Under Graduate (NEET-UG), introduced last year but scrapped by the Supreme Court.

Bengal had admitted medical students through the NEET-UG last year but had to revert to the old JEE system following the apex court order.