This Sunday, over 2,500 students in the city will write the JEE (Advanced) — one of the toughest exams in the country — that will determine their entry into the Indian Institutes of Technology. Curiously, sources said that out of the 1.5 lakh students who had qualified in the JEE (Mains) exam all over the country, only 1.26 lakh students registered for the advanced test.

“This is because many students who have scored just a little more than the cut-off in the qualifying exam feel it is unnecessary to even attempt the advanced exam. However, this does not mean that the competition will come down as the brightest are in the fray,” said Raghavendra Nair, a chemistry teacher. This is the first time a two-tier exam system is in place for entry into the 16 IITs.

Nearly 30,000 students from the southern region have qualified for the test. Of these, 2,643 students are from Chennai and 555 from other parts of the State. In Tamil Nadu, the exam will be held at Chennai and Madurai. Over 33,000 students from the western region and more than 24,000 candidates from the Delhi region have qualified for JEE (Advanced). The exam will be conducted by IIT-Delhi in collaboration with IIT-Kanpur and IIT-Bombay.

Experts continue to be divided over the benefits of the two-exam system. While some believe that it has only added to anxiety among students who had to register twice and perform well in school exams too, others note that the system took out the element of luck.

“There are multiple filters introduced, and only students proficient in clearing all kinds of questions will make it to the IITs. It no longer depends on how good your form is on one particular day,” said Mr. Nair.

Nearly 10, 000 candidates will be selected at the end of the test.

Pawan Kumar, head of the dept of Physics, Fiitjee, believes the test is likely to be tough with questions from a lot of new areas. “It is likely that the maximum score will be in the 400-500 range, with the same number of questions in each paper and in each subject. Of these, nearly 30 per cent of the questions will be very easy; 30 to 40 per cent might be moderately difficult and the rest challenging. Students should be very careful about negative marking,” Mr. Pawan said. Any student who can solve the easy questions and 50 per cent of the remaining questions can easily get a decent rank in IIT, he added.

He also warned of a few unexpected questions. “Previously untouched topics such as matrices, vector, 3D etc. have become more important. So, candidates should go through these sections well.”

The likelihood of such questions is worrying quite a few candidates too. Many even took the JEE (Mains) test in the paper-pen format on April 7 so that they could get more time to prepare.

D. Ramprasad, one such student, said “Topics such as electricity, magnetism, optics, experimental physics, error analysis become quite important in this context.”

The two-test pattern was difficult for officials too. “We were not sure of the relative performances of various States. So it took us a while to decide how many exam centres to allot to each State,” said an official from IIT- Delhi.

Over 2,500 students in the city will write JEE (Advanced) on Sunday