Tuesday, June 17, 2008

7% in maths can get you through IIT-JEE

7% in maths can get you through IIT-JEE
17 Jun 2008, 0421 hrs IST, Manoj Mitta,TNN

NEW DELHI: If you score 7% in your Class XII mathematics paper, you fail. But if you score 7% in your IIT-JEE mathematics paper, you can still make it. That's exactly what happened in the 2007 entrance exam, an RTI query has revealed.

The top 7,202 general category candidates who qualified in the 2007 joint entrance examination, with an aggregate cutoff of 206 marks, included those whose score in one of the subjects was as low as 12 (mathematics), 22 (physics) and 18 (chemistry).

Given that the maximum marks in each subject were 162, the scores of some of the qualified candidates in JEE 2007 work out to 7%, 14% and 11% in the three subjects.

These details have come to light from the fresh data supplied last month under RTI by IIT-Bombay on JEE 2007, which had been organized by it. If such poor performance in individual subjects could not stop candidates from making it to the all-India rank (AIR) list, it was thanks to a radical change in the 2007 examination in the procedure for calculating subject-wise cutoffs.

As TOI first reported on March 17, the change resulted in single-digit cutoffs: 1 in mathematics, 4 in physics and 3 in chemistry, making a mockery of the purpose of ensuring that the selected candidates displayed a certain minimum level of knowledge in every subject.

Under the procedure introduced in 2007, the cutoffs are pegged to the best marks obtained by the bottom 20% of the candidates in each subject.

The change was prompted by the embarrassment IIT-Kharagpur faced over its inability to explain before the Central Information Commission how it had arrived at the much higher cutoffs in the previous examination organized by it in 2006.

The latest disclosure made by IIT-Bombay belies the general expectation that, because of sheer competition, the relaxation in subject-wise cutoffs, which constitute the first screening of the candidates, would not compromise the quality of the intake.

Consider the case of the candidate who scored just 12 in mathematics, a subject crucial to all engineering branches, and yet managed to get rank 3,989 on the strength of his aggregate of 239 marks.

Another candidate who got merely 12 more in mathematics and 6 more in the aggregate, however, jumped 590 rungs higher in the AIR list: his rank 3,399 was, according to the latest counselling browser published by IITs, good enough to secure admission in 2007 in IIT-Kanpur and IIT-Kharagpur.

Despite the negative marking that is done for wrong answers, how can IITs justify the presence of such poor performers in the coveted AIR list?

N Venkataramani of IIT-Bombay, who was the vice-chairman of JEE 2007, told TOI: "Don't let these aberrations make you lose sight of the fact that an overwhelming majority of the selected candidates are the best in the country. Having changed the cutoff procedure on account of the problems that arose with the 2006 examination, we are closely reviewing the new system and will refine it as we go along."

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