Tamil Nadu students do not figure in the top 50 candidates in the results of entrance tests

J. Harini, who recently cleared her standard XII with 198 marks cut-off in core subjects, is hopeful of getting admission in Anna University. She had attempted two of the national-level engineering entrances, but could not clear them. “I found the questions very tough. But, I had devoted all my time in preparing for the State board examinations, because a good result is sufficient to get into good colleges here,” she says.

Focus on Std. XII

Hundreds of students in the State who prefer to focus on the preparation for standard XII examinations, over national level engineering entrance tests, like Harini did, would probably say the same thing. “Tamil Nadu students do not figure in the top 50 candidates in the results of entrance tests to IITs, VIT, Amrita and SRM Universities,” says education consultant Jayaprakash A.Gandhi.

Analysis of these results show that Tamil Nadu lags behind Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala this year, he says. “While Andhra Pradesh has many students scoring over 250 in the BITS entrance test, we have a few only between 150 and 200,” adds Mr Gandhi.

The relatively fewer number of CBSE schools in the State and the absence of a common engineering entrance to get into colleges in the State are other reasons why few students prepare seriously for national-level engineering entrances, say experts. Around 8,000 students in Tamil Nadu attempted the IIT JEE 2011 compared to over 37,000 in Andhra Pradesh.

Brand value

“While many here would want just the NITs located in the southern region, most would prefer private colleges affiliated to Anna University, over NIT Pondicherry. People here are not convinced about the brand value and reluctant to send their children outside the State,” says Mr.Gandhi. “Besides a few State Board students, only about 30 - 40 per cent of the CBSE students who take this exam actually prepare for them seriously,” he says, also observing that since majority of the CBSE students in the city belong to higher income group, they are not much averse to paying the capitation fees of private colleges.

“Ideally, since the syllabus for entrances and board examination is same, the preparation can be done simultaneously. But while a student is just expected to know the sums of his textbook thoroughly well for scoring in the State board exam, he/she is expected to apply a combination of different concepts in entrances, which many find very difficult,” says Balaji Sampath, an IIT-JEE trainer.

Others though, criticise the system in States like Andhra Pradesh which is based on intensive extra coaching and neglecting board exam preparations. “Classes start as early as 5 a.m. in many cities and villages of Andhra Pradesh, and most students prepare extensively for four years. It is more of an industry there that is churning out toppers. The results do not necessarily reflect on the quality of students though,” says Diwakar Rao, former professor, Sri Venkateswara University.

However, experts in Tamil Nadu say that more than clearing the examinations, the preparation would help students gear up to national-level competitions and learn to apply concepts differently. “A score placed at 120th rank in Tamil Nadu in the AIEEE examination last year was over 2000th in Andhra Pradesh,” says Mr Gandhi. “The training for the entrances is not that refined here. Many students still depend on crash courses and just test series,” he adds.

Declining competitiveness

“The increasing number of engineering seats and colleges in the State has reduced the spirit of competitiveness among students. They are not willing to put in the extra efforts,” says P.V. Navaneethakrishnan, former professor, Anna University, adding, “This is precisely why many who score centum in physics and mathematics in Standard XII exams do not even clear mathematics papers in first semester of engineering here.”

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Vasudha VenugopalJune 28, 2012