Now that class XII examinations are over, students are busier than ever before. Those aspiring to get into engineering courses will take at least five entrance tests and those eyeing a medical seat have many more coming up. A considerable section of students will also take exams from both streams to ensure a seat through one at least.

But ask most students and parents when the rush began, and they say it was weeks ago when the filling up forms and deadlines season was at its peak. Over 20 entrance examination tests will be conducted in a ‘window period' of four weeks, in April and May, but the last dates of filling up these forms were mostly over by the last week of March.

The fact that the deadlines seem strategically placed, and that the form has to be filled up much before the date of the exam seems unfair to a lot of parents and students. Besides, application forms cost anything between Rs. 450 and Rs. 3,000, the highest being the price of forms issues by certain medical colleges.

According to S. Nagalakshmi, a parent, “Every household has kept apart at least Rs. 20,000 for this expenditure. And in most families, since the children were busy with board exams, parents filled up their forms and kept track of the last dates.”

For those like K. Dhananjayan of Cuddalore, distance is an additional burden. So he and his son have shifted to a mansion in Triplicane for the next two months for entrance tests, one or two of which are scheduled for almost every weekend. “JEE, AIEEE, SRM, VITEE, JIPMER, AIPMT, Amrita, BITSAT, Manipal and four more,” lists the parent. “He is taking the army exam too next week.

Students may not even attempt all the examinations for which they have registered. “I have a test in the morning for the Space Technology course and VITEE in the afternoon. It will be hectic for me so I don't intend to take the latter. But I have still filled the form, just in case I feel like it,” said Suganth Srinivasan, a student.

Parents and students feel a common exam for all engineering entrances, would bring down the expenses and the pressure . For instance, out of a total 9,134 applications that Harvard Business School received in 2011, it admitted 907 students to its programme, translating to a 10.07 to 1 application to admission ratio. But here, with the IIMs, IITs and reputed colleges, the ratio is 22.5 to 1.

Every applicant has an unshakeable belief in cracking an entrance exam which results in huge student turnout for entrance tests, explains S. Vaidhyasubramaniam, dean (Planning and Development), Sastra University. “Many institutions leverage on this and fix application deadlines well before the results of such exams are released, which leads to booming application sales. The real test on the competitive selection criteria depends on how many apply to these institutions after knowing their competitive exam results,” he said.

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Vasudha VenugopalJune 28, 2012