The recent announcement by the HRD Minister, Prakash Javadekar, has ushered in changes, which I believe is a welcome move in easing the situation, and alleviating the pressure currently attached to students of engineering and medical streams. As the opportunity to appear for these highly competitive exams to gain a seat in one of the elite colleges gets doubled, students can now appear twice without wasting a full year. Additionally, the exams are timed in a way that now students can judiciously devote time to both boards and entrance exams and pace their preparations accordingly. I believe that this change will provide candidates with an option of appearing twice; though only the best score of the two will be taken into account for admission or merit list formation. This move additionally lends candidates with an opportunity to identify their weaknesses and rectify their mistakes before the next sitting.
Another breather is that, henceforth the exams will be spread across multiple dates rather than being held on a single day and will therefore provide a much required gap to the contenders.
National Testing Agency (NTA) will now conduct all entrance examinations for higher educational institutions. It would start conducting NEET and JEE (Mains) from the upcoming academic session. NTA researchers will pioneer, in Indian context, computer-based testing, which will permit innovative test items, more than once testing for JEE, NEET, etc examinations, convenient scheduling and faster marking and score reporting for students. NTA will also introduce research-based more advanced versions of computer-based tests, including multimedia questions and simulations, thereby will move beyond the boundaries of traditional paper-and-pencil tests. (Source: www.nta.ac.in)
With the exams now being conducted in online mode only, it will result in saving precious time during exam and will also result in faster declaration of results. This will directly help both students as well as the education industry. That said, I believe that the online mode of examination will bring in digital revolution in the rural areas as students will now be able to practice free of cost in centres set up by NTA.
Going forward, coaching industry will not only gear up to meet the challenge to prepare students in accordance, but will also consider introducing new courses to meet the oncoming changes and requirements. The sudden changes in the examination process will break the market of traditional pedagogy and the coaching or test preparation institutes will have to make changes accordingly, so as to provide students with required knowledge and orientation to perform to the best of their abilities in upcoming JEE and NEET exams.
We agree that this step will reduce the overall cost and save a lot of time as this move is extremely student centric but the transition from traditional to digital and adapting to it will take some time for its readiness as well as for its acceptance as a medium of test conduction.
We believe that the step promotes eco-friendly testing. The operation cost may be cost-effective and papers can be modified like random variables which wipe out any chance of security lapses which may lead to paper leaks. Students may have to face the cultural-shock initially because the preparation pattern will change, however with time they will adapt to the same since today’s youth is quite tech-savvy.
Congruently, understanding the broader educational goals, we may follow the model of GMAT and SAT and students could be given an option of writing the test any time of the year whenever they are ready. Additionally, NTA may deploy Artificial Intelligence (AI) as an interface and modernise one of the world’s biggest examinations in terms of numbers and challenges faced. There may still be challenges in immediate implementation, but as the process gets streamlined, things will start to acquire a better shape and we will be able to share the government’s confidence of the exams, as it moves along, with minimal hiccups. Having said that, there are a lot of borders in our country and one of the primary reasons is lack of technology due to which our reach is low. However, by introducing technology and making it accessible to the world’s youngest democracy, we can hope for a positive outcome.
The writer is the CEO and whole-time director of Aakash Educational Services Limited.
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