The Joint Entrance Examination (Advanced), for undergraduate admissions to IITs, will only be conducted online from next year. A decision in this regard was taken at a meeting of the Joint Admission Board (JAB) of IITs in Chennai on Sunday, said a statement from IIT Madras.
The move, the IIT fraternity feels, will ensure quicker evaluation and reduce chances of paper leaks. This year, IITs had to award seven marks each to all candidates because of printing errors in the question paper. The decision to go digital, IIT Madras director Bhaskar Ramamurthi said, will also prevent such errors. Sources said the meeting also discussed changes in the marking scheme for JEE (Advanced).
The JAB will set up a committee in a week to work out the roadmap for transition from the pen-and-paper format for the annual entrance test, to online. While it will be implemented by IIT Kanpur in 2018, IIT Roorkee will conduct the entrance test in 2019.
Another committee set up earlier to propose ways to reduce errors in the question paper presented its recommendations at the Sunday meeting, including a suggestion that marks be awarded to a candidate for attempting a question, even if the answer is not right. Currently, candidates get marks only if they give the right answers. The panel suggested that the online JEE Advanced allow the test takers to enter their calculations too, based on which marks could be partially awarded.
“IITs will file an affidavit in the Supreme Court on changes they will adopt to reduce printing and other errors in question papers and also how they will deal with ambiguous questions in the future. All the suggestions of the committee will be part of the affidavit,” a government official said on the condition of anonymity.
Currently, in the pen-and-paper test for JEE (Advanced), candidates mark the correct answer in multiple choice questions by colouring appropriate bubbles in the Optical Mark Recognition or OMR sheet. The OMR sheet is then scanned by a software to tabulate results.
To take the JEE (Advanced), a candidate first has to clear JEE (Main). This year, 1,59,540 took the JEE (Advanced), out of which 50,455 qualified for admissions to IITs.
“We are trying to change with the times. Today many entrance examinations are already being conducted online. JEE (Advanced) is probably among the last few national-level tests that is still a pen-and paper test,” said a member of the JAB who attended Sunday’s meeting.
Asked if students, especially those from rural areas, would have adequate time to adapt to the changes being ushered in by IITs, another JAB member said, “Of course, we will try to help everybody and there will be options to educate IIT aspirants on how to attempt the online paper. We still have 10 months before the next test. The details of such interventions will have to be worked out.”
JEE (Main) has the option of taking the test online, and this year, of the 13 lakh-plus students who took the exam, less than 10 per cent gave it online.