Amidst the many happy faces of students on Monday, jubilant over their performance in class XII exams, there were also some visibly hassled visages.

Vikas Sakaray, who topped Sankara Senior Secondary School with 486 marks, was one of them. “I have a centum in mathematics, but just about 95 in physics and 97 in Chemistry. I really hope to get through one of the IITs or the NITs. Without a 98 or 99 in all core science subjects, we CBSE students, stand a very narrow chance in getting through the well-known State engineering colleges,” he says.

With the unusual number of similar cut-off marks scored by students in State Board class XII examinations and the many centums, this year's engineering admission counselling promises to be a close race, say experts.

A pertinent worry among many CBSE students concerns admission to the reputed colleges under Anna University as all of them would be assessed only by their class XII results, on a par with their counterparts from State Board schools.

“There is a certain level of difficulty in the CBSE exam, with about 20 per cent of questions testing the students' higher order thinking skills. It is very difficult to score a centum here,” says K. Ravi, general manager, Brilliant Tutorials

“CBSE does not follow the standard deviation. Even if one student gets a centum, the normalisation does not happen. So, the scores of State Board and CBSE students cannot be compared,” says career consultant and analyst Jayaprakash A. Gandhi. “The Central Government should increase engineering seats in the State. None of the new NITs are in south India, and hence students from Tamil Nadu who do not wish to go out are not benefited even if they deserve,” he adds.

“Getting through to the college and engineering discipline of their choice can be difficult for these students. Even in the past, very few CBSE students could get through reputed colleges under Anna University,” says Lakshmi Srinivasan, Principal, P. S. Secondary School.

However, experts note that national-level entrances are cleared in large numbers by CBSE students. “About 95 per cent of the students in IIT come from CBSE. Most CBSE students are aware of their chances, hence they take required measures of applying to other universities or procuring management seats in colleges,” says Balaji Sampath, an IIT JEE trainer.

But the students are visibly concerned. “It is not the top performers who are confident of getting through the IITs or NITs or the ones who have already got their seats secured in the management category who need to be worried, but people like us who are nowhere,” says R. Sriram, of Hindu Senior Secondary School, who has secured a 181.5 cut off in science.

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