When Competitive Exams Galore…

It is that time of the year again when students from all over the country will be appearing for competitive examinations that will decide as to which college or university they will gain admission into.

The schedule for various examinations is as follows :

Apr. 6, 2008 – All India Pre-Medical and Pre-Dental Entrance Examination (CBSE- AIPMT), 2007

Apr. 6, 2008 – Armed Force Medical College (AFMC) Pune, Admission to MBBS Course 2008

Apr. 10, 2008Gujarat Common Entrance Exam (GUJCET – 2008)

Apr. 13, 2008 – IIT Joint Entrance Examination (IIT JEE) – 2008

Apr. 19, 2008 – Karnataka Common Entrance Test 2008

Apr. 20, 2008 – West Bengal Joint Entrance Examination (WBJEM)

Apr. 20, 2008 – Bihar Combined Entrance Competitive Examination

Apr. 21, 2008 – Kerala Engineering Architecture Medical (KEAM – 2008)

Apr. 27, 2008 – All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE 2008)

May. 3, 2008 – Symbiosis Entrance Test (SET – 2008)

May. 8, 2008 – Andhra Pradesh- Engineering, Agricultural and Medical Common Entrance Test (EAMCET – 2008)

May. 9, 2008 – BITS Admission Test- 2008 (BITSAT 2008)

May. 25, 2008 – Orissa Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) 2007

May. 31, 2008 – Delhi University Combined Entrance Examination (CEE-2008)

June 1, 2008AIIMS- MBBS Entrance Examination 2008

As you might have noticed, there is a huge list of examinations one has to appear for if one wishes to guarantee oneself a seat in a college of their preferred choice.

Less number of seats in professional courses like engineering and medical cause people to appear for multiple exams so that they can secure a seat in at least one college. Also, when one does secure a seat, one has to compromise on the branch allotted. Hence, there comes the  dilemma of whether to give the institution a higher priority or the branch of one’s liking. Majority of the people end up going for a reputed college into a branch they did not wish to join, only because of the brand value and better placements, thereby giving their dreams and creativity an early death.

Also, preparing for multiple exams implies more number of books to study and different syllabi to cover as each exam has its own prescribed syllabus to study.

The authorities justify this by saying that 70 per cent of the syllabus in these exams is the same, yet they fail to understand that a new topic from the remaining 30 per cent can cause one to lose marks in the exams, and we all are aware, a one mark difference can cause a 1000 rank drop in the result. Each exam accompanies with it its own routine of form filling, document submission, form fees etc. Parents and students have to stand in lines for hours in the hot sun to buy a form, which can cost anywhere between Rs. 200 to Rs. 2000.

As a result, the students are burdened with extra studies. The moment they are admitted to class XI, they decide to lock themselves up in their rooms for the next two years of their life. Well, you will recognize them easily. They are the ones with the dark eye circles, poor health, a constant stressed out expression and those who don’t give proper attention to themselves. No TV, no sports, no entertainment, no relaxation, only studies, studies and more studies!

The coaching institutions flourish as they demand exorbitant fees per course. They assure you that your child needs coaching as these exams are tough ones to crack. They claim that they will cover the syllabus ‘rapidly’ and teach the ‘tips and tricks’ to score well. As a result, parents shell out thousands of rupees for their child’s future, only to get dismayed in the end. Basically, one has to realise that no genuine talent or aptitude can flourish in such an environment.

Another point to be noticed in our admission system is that students with lesser scores can gain admission to the desired colleges through the management quota in which one has to pay a hefty sum in addition to the fees and other expenses. What does this imply? That initially, you hold exams to decide if a person has the caliber to join the college, and then you reserve seats for students who can pay and get through, while at the same time, they may not have scored high on the exams.

I fail to understand why we cannot have a centralized examination system for all students applying for education at the graduate and post-graduate levels. In the US, there is only one examination, the Scholastic Aptitude Test(SAT) which is an online test that tests basic language, math and science skills. The scores of the SAT are sent to the colleges where one desires to apply. Besides that, every college asks for a record of extra-curricular activities and sports pursued by the applicant while in school, as an admission requirement. Even UK follows a similar pattern. There is no quota system, no reservation drama. Just plain simple aptitude. It will probably take some effort to set up such a system, but we cannot keep letting our future youth suffer over selfish interests. If we do not nip the problem in the bud just now, it will only get worse. Who knows, by the time we are parents ourselves, our kids will be appearing for 40-50 exams.

Nazia Nad

[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/strausser/66621063/]