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Soon, SAT-like common entrance test in India

Higher Education

The Union ministry of human resource development (MoHRD) is all set to revolutionise the way students get admitted to various engineering and undergraduate level courses in colleges across the country.

Borrowing a leaf out of the American education system’s Scholar Aptitude Test (SAT), the MoHRD is planning a similar single entrance examination which will rank students across the country and enable them to get admission according to their rankings.

By 2013, there would not be any joint entrance examination for the coveted IITs and other engineering courses. Students need to just sit for the single National Aptitude Test (NAT) and get admitted according to their positions. A similar examination was being planned for all the BSc, BCom and BA undergraduate programmes. This would mean students can stop losing sleep over the crazy cut-off percentage system for admissions and instead try and get good rankings in the new aptitude test. However, their Std 12 marks would continue to cast a shadow on deciding admissions.

The revolutionary scheme has been credited to Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal who came up with the concept of the “one nation, one exam” recently. The proposed reform would benefit more than 10 lakh students annually, who at present have to take multiple examinations to pursue engineering and other undergraduate courses.

But not everyone was happy with the proposal. Noted educationist and former school principal Vibha Parthasarathy felt that “each child has a different aptitude so you cannot homogenise the system. Having a common entrance test just doesn’t make any sense.”Former NCERT chairman Krishna Kumar, however, said that “a similar system in medical courses is needed and will prevent students from being stressed out.”

According to a senior MoHRD official, this examination “will be sufficient to get admissions in colleges across the country as a single merit list will be prepared based on the common aptitude test. All colleges in the country will have to make admissions based on this list.”

In the run up to preparing a legislation to put this into effect, the MoHRD conducted an online survey for three months, starting June this year. The ministry was overwhelmed with parents and students supporting the initiative wholeheartedly. Nearly 70 % of the 2,063 participants were in favour of this proposed initiative.

India’ single-entrance would, however, suit Indian requirements. “We have to tweak the SAT system to our requirements and keep factors such as diversity and the size of the Indian population in mind. For instance, a student from Tamil Nadu does not have to write a test in Hindi,” the official told DNA. The test would be conducted twice a year so that those who failed to make the cut once get another chance to improve. For this, the official said the Indian education system was going in for a major overhaul by having a semester system.

DNA, August 11, 2011

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