AdmissionNews Education
Multiple JEE (Main) in a year could be possible
AdmissionNews Education

New Delhi: The government is considering whether the Joint Entrance Examination (Main), or JEE (Main), should be held three to four times every year, Union education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ said on Thursday. At present, the examination for entry to top engineering colleges is held twice a year. In an online interaction with students, parents and teachers, Pokhriyal also said his ministry is considering providing more choices when it comes to questions students have to answer in JEE (Main). He said the education ministry is monitoring the pandemic situation, which has disrupted the academic session this year. Issues such as whether there is a need to curtail the JEE (Main) syllabus can only be addressed based on how the Covid-19 situation turns out, the minister added. Owing to the disruptions due to Covid-19, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has announced reducing its syllabus for classes 9-12 for the 2020-2021 academic session by up to 30% as a “one-time measure”. Some state boards, such as that of West Bengal, too have curtailed their syllabus. Pokhriyal said the dates for board exams, JEE and medical entrance test National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) will be declared well in advance in 2021 so as to ensure that students do not face difficulties. He, however, did not specify if a decision to postpone them had been taken.

“The system of setting questions of exams such as JEE is also being thoroughly looked at. Some boards have reduced syllabus, others to a lesser degree. We are looking at setting questions in a way no one is at a disadvantage,” he said. “The suggestion that JEE (Main) 2021 be held four times in a year will be examined positively,” Pokhriyal added. He said more attempts at the competitive exam may help lessen the stress students have to undergo. In case of multiple exams, Pokhriyal said, a candidate will have the option to appear in just one of them or more. As far as ranking is concerned, the student’s best performance will be considered.

A statement by his ministry on Thursday suggested that the JEE (Main) could be conducted in the end of February (thereafter in March, April and May) in 2021. An official, who did not want to be named, said the idea was being explored but a final decision had yet to be taken. At present, JEE (Main) is conducted twice every year — once in January and then in April. Several engineering colleges use scores obtained in these tests to grant admission to students. On the basis of the performance in these tests, the JEE (Advanced) is conducted by the premier Indian Institute of Technologies (IITs) for intake of students. The minister also said the syllabus for JEE (Main) in 2021 is likely to remain the same as the previous year. He added that a proposal is under consideration to give students more choices in the question paper. If the proposal is approved, a student would have to answer 75 questions in total (25 questions each in physics, chemistry and mathematics) out of 90 questions (30 questions each in the three subjects). For JEE (Main) in 2020, candidates had to answer 75 questions out of 75.

The minister also clarified that the NEET exam is not cancelled. On a suggestion for conducting NEET online, he said consultations could be held to find out what the students wanted. Academic activity in 2020 was impacted adversely due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Authorities closed schools across the country in mid-March, and subsequently, a 68-day hard lockdown was imposed in India on March 25. Though the Centre allowed states to take a call on the graded reopening of educational institutes after October 15, many of them took a wait and watch approach while some granted permission to students of higher classes to attend physical classes with curtailed timings and stringent safety measures. Due to the pandemic, several important examinations, including board examinations, were postponed even as some papers stood cancelled. JEE (Main) was held in September, instead of April. JEE(Main) and NEET, too, were postponed. “Measures of multiple JEEs in 2021...reduction in the syllabi to be covered, increasing the choice for answering questions etc. may be the requirements dictated by the Covid pandemic. But care must be taken that these do not become norms or precedence for the future,” said Dr Inder Mohan Kapahy, a former member of higher education regulator University Grants Commission.

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