For class XII students, the end of board examinations marks the beginning of a series of competitive examinations.

This Sunday, students aspiring to make it to professional institutes such as the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) will take the All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).

“There is a notion that students of the state board tend to find the AIEEE paper difficult. But, it is not all that difficult,” according to T.M. Soundararajan, mathematics teacher, Sri Ahobila Mutt Oriental School.

Observing that the State Board syllabus and the CBSE syllabus have a lot in common, he says: “The CBSE stream has more sums and because students are exposed to them, they may have an edge.”

However, with the trend of preparing for multiple competitive examinations becoming popular among students of all streams, many are well equipped.

Gulsar Ahamed, a student of DAV Matriculation, has just given his class XII examinations. Busy preparing for the AIEEE, he says: “I did not enrol for any coaching class for AIEEE since I have been attending classes for the IIT-JEE for the last two years. I do not find the AIEEE particularly difficult,” he says.

However, some of Gulsar's friends, who did not go for JEE coaching, attended classes for AIEEE. “Many have enrolled for crash courses now,” he added.

Largely based on the CBSE syllabus, the AIEEE has two papers. While paper I (physics, chemistry and mathematics) is for students interested in B.E and B.Tech programmes, Paper II (mathematics, aptitude and drawing) is for students aiming to pursue B. Arch or B. Planning programmes.

However, the AIEEE is more popular among students going to private schools. Some government school students are unaware of the opportunities that they will get if they perform well in such competitive examinations, say teachers. “Most of them think that the only way to make it to engineering colleges is through counselling. They do not know of the JEE, AIEEE or entrance examinations conducted by the deemed universities,” she said.

Also, as a parent points out, the fees that coaching centres charge for competitive examinations runs into several thousand rupees.

Asked if she knew about the AIEEE, class XII student S. Geetha, going to a government-aided school, says: “No. I only know that if I score well, I might get engineering admissions. Otherwise, I will have to take up a B.Sc course.”