Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tamil Nadu professional courses entrance examinations

Getting admission into Tamil Nadu engineering and medical colleges is fairly simple-attend the 12th board examinations and score well in the science and math subjects. It was not the same when I was trying to get into an engineering school. I had to attend an entrance examination (TNPCEE exam, which is far tougher than the board examinations!!) which was weighed 1/3 of the final eligibility score.

When I first heard that TN government is canceling the entrance examination and giving more (in fact, only) weight to the board examination scores, I was appalled. It was far easier to score a 200 in math in the board exam than to score a 30/50 in the entrance examination. I always thought that the best students are separated from the rest only through this entrance examination (this is similar in all competitive exams in India).

But, TNPCEE did pose a huge problem-students from cities and from rich background could afford to attend special coaching classes for getting a better score in the entrance exams. This gives an untoward advantage for a very small percentage of students.

Nandan Nilekani of Infosys writes in his book “Imagining India”, “Most parents could afford to send their children to state schools which had weak standards and taught only in the regional languages. This alone meant that in India if you are born poor it was very likely that you would remain poor for the rest of your life, and it was likely too that your children would not fare much better”.

I agree.

I think what the TN govt had done would help reduce (and might completely remove) the line between students from the poorer background to those from the richer background (who could attend coaching classes to get good score in the entrance examinations). Now the game is fair with no players under the influence of performance enhancing drugs(or coaching classes).

P.S: the bad part of this whole new system is that a lot of students end up getting the same cut-off score (there are always hundreds of students who score 100% in math, physics and chemistry) and to rank them the Government use students' date of birth, first letter of the name, rural/urban differences as some of the distinguishing factors.

Imagine my situation- with a birthday in September, with V as my name’s first letter and coming from the urban background, I would be placed last in the whole ranking list. Hi Hi!!!

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