Many aspirants continue to travel to other towns to write crucial exam; new pattern cited as reason

Several students in the city went all the way to Puducherry, Madurai and Coimbatore to take the Indian Institute of Technology-Joint Entrance Examination (Mains) on Sunday.

This year, the JEE Mains test is being used for the first time to determine entry into all reputed engineering institutions including the IITs and the National Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Information Technology, Delhi Technological University, and other Centrally-funded technical institutes.

Students said they preferred to travel to other cities rather than take the test in Chennai, partly due to a fear of glitches in the online test (the only format available in the city) and also due to a preference for the time-tested paper-pen format for the crucial exam.

The JEE will be conducted in the computer-based test mode from April 8 to 25 across the country, including in Chennai.

The number of students who went to other towns to take the test, however, was much lower this year, according to Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) officials.

“Last year was the first time the online format was introduced, and students wanted to stay on the safe side and travelled to different centres. This year though, the number has come down significantly,” said an official.

Gita Prabhu, managing director of coaching centre AIMS Education, said that those students from areas such as Dindigul and Rasipuram, which have, over the years, seen a significant increase in the number who take engineering entrance tests, preferred the paper-pen format.

“There is a great digital divide among students of urban schools who study computer science and are extremely comfortable with working online and those from districts,” she said.

“There was a lot of confusion this time with regard to the paper pattern and syllabus. Barring the high-profile coaching institutes, most offer just 3-4 online practice tests, which are not sufficient to gain confidence. Also, I was not sure if the centres would be free of technical glitches,” said Meghana Cherra, a student who took the test in Coimbatore.

Other students, however, preferred the online format “Our board exams got over barely ten days ago. With online exams, you can choose the day and time of your test,” said Vaibhav Krishna, who is all set to take the JEE Mains on April 22.

Most students in Chennai, given the flexibility of online testing, have chosen dates after April 20.

“I have other engineering tests around April 25 and I have chosen to do the JEE on the 22nd. That way, I can be done with all the tests in a week,” said Anand Kannan, another student.

This year, the number of JEE aspirants, has increased by nearly 2.8 lakh, said experts.

Satya Narayana, a student who took the paper on Sunday said, “Physics was a little tough but maths and chemistry were easier than the board exams. Overall, the paper was easier than previous years’ papers.”