Part 2 of the guide to standardised tests for college admissions

Navigating entrance exams for admissions to Indian colleges involves understanding a variety of national and state-level entrance exams across different disciplines.

Published - April 13, 2024 04:58 pm IST

Apart from knowledge of specific subjects, entrance exams also test logical reasoning and problem solving skills.

Apart from knowledge of specific subjects, entrance exams also test logical reasoning and problem solving skills. | Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockPhoto

Last month, the column looked at the important standardised tests for college admissions abroad. This second part looks at entrance exams for colleges in India, which involve a variety of national and state-level tests and are critical for students seeking admission to undergraduate programmes in Engineering, Medicine, Law, and other fields.

JEE Main

The Joint Entrance Examination Main, usually held in January and April, is the key to entering top Engineering and Architecture programmes at the Indian Institutes of Technology, the National Institutes of Technology (NITs), the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs), and other centrally funded technical institutions. It has two parts: Paper 1 is designed for engineering aspirants, while Paper 2 for those interested in architecture. Currently, for B.Arch., Physics, Chemistry and Math in Class 12 is required. Applications are online.


The National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test, held annually in May, is the national exam for admissions into undergraduate Medical and Dental programmes in government and private colleges. This pen-and-paper test covers Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. Applications are online.


The Common Law Admission Test holds the key to undergraduate and postgraduate Law courses at 22 National Law Universities in India. Usually held in December, it tests skills in English, logical reasoning, legal knowledge, general knowledge, current affairs, and basic Maths across five sections. It is best to take it while in Class 12.


The annual online Birla Institute of Technology and Science Admission Test is usually held from May to June for admission into BITS Pilani’s Engineering, Science, and Pharmacy programmes. The computer-based exam, which tests knowledge of Physics, Chemistry, Maths/Biology, logical reasoning, and English. Applications are online

State-level Exams

Various states in India hold their own exams for admissions into Engineering or Medicine such as MHT-CET in Maharashtra, KCET in Karnataka, and EAMCET in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Dates may vary but usually these are held between April and June. Applications have to be made online through the State Education Board website.

For Design courses

The three-hour Undergraduate Common Entrance Examination for Design, which assesses creativity, visualisation and problem solving, is the entry point to design programmes. It includes MCQs and numerical answer questions. UCEED is essential for admission into top institutes like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) in Bombay, Guwahati, Hyderabad, and the Indian Institute of Information Technology Design and Manufacturing (IIITDM) in Jabalpur, among others. Scores are also accepted by other colleges, but check each institute’s specific requirements and stay updated via the UCEED website.

The National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) hosts its own exam in January-February and checks creativity and skills for fashion and design through various tasks. For some programmes, it also includes a situation test, group discussion, and interview.

The Design Aptitude Test (DAT) of National Institute of Design (NID) is usually held in two parts with the Prelims in December or January and the Mains a few months later. The former tests creative and analytical skills and the Mains may involve practical tests and interviews.

The Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bengaluru, hosts the Srishti Manipal Institute of Art, Design and Technology Entrance Exam (SMAT), and a portfolio review and personal interview. The timing varies, so the official website will give the accurate schedule.


Managed by the National Testing Agency (NTA), the Common University Entrance Test (CUET)is essential for admissions into undergraduate programmes at central universities across India, such as Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi University (DU), Banaras Hindu University (BHU), and the University of Allahabad. Typically held between May and July, it assesses the applicant’s knowledge of a wide array of subjects through objective-type questions but allows students to select those that best match their interests and the requirements of their preferred universities. The registration process usually begins in February with all procedures conducted online. Exams are held across the country.

Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary institutions

Private liberal arts colleges such as Ashoka University, FLAME University, Symbiosis, Krea University, Shiv Nadar University, and Plaksha University require passing specific entrance exams that evaluate critical thinking and communication, among other skills.

Ashoka University holds the Ashoka Aptitude Test, FLAME University uses FEAT, Symbiosis has SET, Krea University offers KIC, Shiv Nadar University uses SNUSAT, Christ University has CUET (Christ Unviersity Entrance Test) and Plaksha University’s admission process includes unique evaluations reflecting their curriculum. These exams are usually held from December to May, mostly online, catering to a national applicant pool. Successful candidates may also face interviews. For exact requirements, formats, and deadlines, check each university’s website.

Getting ready for entrance exams is crucial, not just to get into college but also to build key skills such as analysis, time management, and problem-solving. These exams open doors to top schools and require thorough preparation. So, take prep seriously, use practice exams, study with friends, and seek extra help if you need it. This journey is not just about passing a test; it’s about setting yourself up for successd.

The writer is Founder and CEO, Inomi Learning, a Gurugram-based career and college guidance firm.

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