Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Doing Away with The TNPCEE Entrance Exams

The Tamil Nadu government had legislated that the common entrance exam (also called Common Entrance Tests) conducted for Professional courses will be abandoned. The recent entrance exam conducted for this academic year has also been invalidated. Previously the sum of Mathematics score (scaled to a range of 0 -100) , Physics, Chemistry ( Each scaled to a score range of 0 - 50) and the TNPCE Entrance exam ( score range 0 - 100) was calculated. The total score ( the maximum possible score is 300) for each student determines his/her engineering admission. This system is gone now. The XII grade results will now solely determine the engineering admissions.

There is no doubt that the recent Entrance Exam results, where many students fared abysmally, has triggered a big argument among the parent - teacher - student - political community. And this is the reason why such a decision has been made. Of course this is a political move. One that would please the parents of the average to pathetic range (more on this later) of students in the state and cause them to vote for this government. The DMK needn't smile too much, they would have done the same if they had the chance. You have to be terribly retarded to miss the opportunity to cash in on idiot votes.

Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are two states where there is high premium on *engineering* education. In the "quality of students" in the engineering category, these two states usually score over every other state in the country. In my experience, which is quite vast in these areas, these are the level 1 states. Followed by Level 2 states like Maharashtra & Kerala and level 3 states like Delhi & Karnataka.

Three of the top 10 engineering colleges in the country are in Tamil Nadu. 2 of those three are directly impacted by this decision. 100% of the seats in College of Engineering, Guindy (popularly known as Anna University) are impacted by this decision. The Indian Engineering Colleges rankings released this year tell me that outside the 6 IIT's, this college is India's top engineering college. Better than even BITS, Pilani. 50% of the seats in Regional Engineering College, Tuvakudi, Trichinapalli, the other top 10 college is also impacted by this decision. One only hopes that this decision does not kick out these two colleges from the rankings (more on this in the Pro section).

There are Con's and Pro's to this entrance exam system.

The Con: In my opinion, which is usually quite harsh on such issues, the entrance exam is superfluous. It is a repeat exam of whatever was covered in the Plus 2 syllabus. The idea of introducing this was mainly to alienate CBSE/ICSE students and give priority to people who took Tamil as first languages. The TN government which proposed this system believed that people who studied Hindi/Sanskrit/French usually preferred to remain in CBSE for their XI and XII grades. If there was an entrance exam introduced which was worth 1/3 rd of the total score considered for engineering admissions AND if the entrance exam was based purely on State Board Syllabus, the CBSE/ICSE students wouldn't stand a chance at all. Synching up with the State Board Plus 2 syllabus in 2 months is next to impossible. This entrance exam tilted the balance in favor of State Board students for more than a decade. This initial idea of an entrance exam to eliminate a particular category of students itself was unfair. CBSE/ICSE XII syllabus is far tougher than State Board syllabus. While ability is a completely different topic, I have to say worth-wise every point in CBSE/ICSE stream was worth twice as much as 1 point in State Board stream. The State Board stream was mainly dependent on the mugging-up philosphy and vomitting whatever was in the text books into the answer paper. It is precisely the syllabus practises that has given rise to the majority of blind i'll-do-as-you-say IT folks that are flooding the market now in India. Ya! there are always exceptions but as a general trend this is true. Any State Board student who disagrees with me is either Blind or worse "Patriotic" ( Disclaimer: I did my XII std in State Board Syllabus). The point is alienating CBSE students definetly resulted in some good students being denied an opportunity to get into top engineering colleges. This led to an overall reduction in engineering school quality.

Oh!I almost forgot. I don't think highly of people who take CBSE in their XII standard. I made a conscious choice to switch over to State Board after SSLC. The snooty folks (especially those from PSBB) who thought taking CBSE in XI & XII was reflection of some sort of high status, ended up in worser places than me. Thats what happens if you take CBSE in XI and XII! Taking CBSE stream in XI std, knowing fully well that the engineering entrance is skewed towards State Board Students is an idiocy many students can ill-afford. Not all CBSE students get into IITs and BITs. The rest of them (which is like 90% of the students) would have live and endure the agony of less intelligent and less capable ex-classmates walking into better engineering colleges. Since after the CBSE board exams there is only 2 months or less time gap to prepare for the engineering entrances, this time is not enough to synch up with a whole new syllabus. Added to this the total marks for Math Phy and Chem, in State Board Syllabus (all three are for a maximum of 200 points) scream out "Advantage State Board". Vision and direction is as important as hardwork and ability.

The Pros: Having said all the above, the entrance exam is a good starting point for multiple-choice objective type examinations. Tamil Nadu is one of the few states (if not the only one) to have such a system. I also think this is the reason why Anna University is so highly ranked in India. The students in this college are ones who have cracked objective type exams. This almsot parallels the US under graduate admission process where a SAT objective exam is taken in conjuction with the academic performance to determine college admissions. The only thing missing are the essays. The objective tests are the kind of exams, which a student will face many times over during his lifetime. With some exceptions -- Intelligent people should generally do well in this exam. These kind of exams are a reality in today's world and refusing to face such exams is lunacy. I would seriously advise the critics of objective tests to stop being a wuss, stop the critisisms and face the music. If you feel you aren't doing these exams well, then improve yourself. I agree sometimes the exams are overdone but don't critisize the exams unless they are as excessive as CAT. India is a country which obsesses on these kind of objective type exams so there is no escaping this. The problem with India is we either completely hype these sort of objective-tests like the stupid stupid CAT exam or completely critisize the existence of such exams. A middle ground is what is needed and such an exam with 1/3rd weight is not a bad idea. These exams if used correctly test analytical ability, performance under pressure and to some extent presence of mind. A majority (not all) of the people who feel that this exam shuld be abolished are those who have sucked badly in these exam. To those people -- ya! you may get away with this exam at this age but the world is waiting with many such exams. Think of this blog when you are blinking in your engineering college campus-interview placement exams. It is better you solve the problem right-away or you may have a career to pay for.

Why I said "pathetic" previously was because people who want an engineering career should bloody well be doing these exams well. Your work life (the one where you wont be "changing the world" ) will end up precisely testing the qualities that these exams test. These engineering entrance exams aren't as insane as CAT and are quite within the acceptable limits. Plus it counts for only 1/3rd of the evaluation criteria -- unlike CAT. There is really no excuse being 110 kgs overweight and still wanting to be Sachin Tendulkar. You may have the hand-eye coordination to drive the ball between the fielders but then how will you run between the wickets? This exam tested a specific aspect of your ability and you did not come out well. Thats an undeniable truth.

What this means to Various People ?

The Govt has claimed that it is abolishing these exams because the students in Rural areas are being put at a disadvantage. I am not sure why rural students should be alienated by these entrance exams when it does the opposite of alienating CBSE students to create seats for them. Rural students seem to constantly excel in Plus 2 exams ( statistics do not tell the whole picture but there is enugh evidence to suggest that rural students aren't pig-heads). Coaching centers or not, when the entrance exams are conducted according to State Board Syllabus, claiming that rural students are being alienated seems to be a silly political statement aimed at getting the village (idiot's) votes. No sensible person would vote for a person who claims such stupid things. Even if the actual change is good, it should be for the right reasons.

This year if anybody feels they have lost out on something because of this Goverment Order -- they are completely justified and they have all the right to sue the government. The people who find themselves lucky because these entrance exam marks have been erased -- may laugh now but pay later some other day. Anyway their admission into better colleges than the ones that the former category get admitted into -- is completely unjustified and against the natural principles of fairness.

It was known a year (or many years before) that Entrance + Plus 2 was how the engineering admissions would be conducted. This year's brochures have this information. To change the rules after the results have been announced is a crime. A sort of crime that can happen only in our country. If I had the power I would shoot down the idiots who perpertrated this crime. Any new changes should be made effective from next year not the current year. Well if a whole lot of students sucked in the entrance then there is no use punishing the students who did well in the entrance. This amounts to forgiving the students who did badly in the entrance exams and punishing harshly those who just did the entrance well (even after an average performance in the public exams). This is a huge crime. If there is a God -- he will offset the loss related to this crime.


Forrest Gump said...

what's your typing speed...?
or do you have a secretary who takes dictations ?

Hawkeye said...

I'll take that as a compliment :-)

I am not rich enough to afford a seceratary.

Anonymous said...

Why do people only think about short term benefits..? We are already producing 40,000 idiots every year(in TN alone), inspite of having an entrance exam.
Now we are designing a fool proof system to make sure that only fools can survive.
God save India.

anantha said...


Anonymous said...


Yeah,you have a valid point here:-)


Ram said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ram said...

CBSE in XI and XII does equip students towards a better analytical understanding of Math and Physics. It simply is a better curriculum and why change schools or syllabi, just for the greed of scoring higher in the board exams if for no other reason?

It was funny to read this article from the perspective of a CBSE student. Read my stand on this, with not so much detail or analysis.


ramkumar said...

Nagarajan Makes Tamil youth proud. Make it a main entry, not just a comment.

Date:12/05/2005 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2005/05/12/stories/2005051212651300.htm

Front Page

Railway official from Tamil Nadu is IAS topper

Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI: Railway traffic service official Srinivasan Nagarajan has bagged the top spot in the Union Public Service Commission Civil Services (Main) Examination. The results were announced here on Wednesday.

In all, 422 candidates, including 67 women, have been recommended for appointment. While the top 20 includes six women, 193 candidates have been selected from the general category, including three physically challenged persons, 118 from Other Backward Classes, 64 from Scheduled Castes and 47 from the Scheduled Tribes category. The number of vacancies reported by the Government for IAS, IFS and IPS is 91, 20 and 88, for the Central Services Group `A' 235 and the Central Services Group `B' 19.

It may have been his fourth and last attempt but for Tirunelveli-based Mr. Nagarajan, it could not have ended on a better note. A B.Tech from BITS Pilani, he had sociology and geography as options. Professionals have clearly scored, with the top 10 comprising an engineer, two doctors and an IIM graduate. Basant Garg and Gaurav Uppal are both doctors and hold the second and third ranks this year. Basant has cleared it in his first attempt.

Manish Kumar, ranked fifth, is an IIM graduate. He had to choose between a New York posting with handsome salary and one that would help him serve his own people.

"I decided to take the UPSC exam when I got the offer for a job in New York. Although the money was great, I wanted to do something here. I was not sure if coming back would be easy once I went there, so I decided to write the exam instead. It is my third attempt but I am glad to have finally made it," he said. Interestingly, at least six of the top 10 were trained at an institute here. "We were confident of having our students in the top 10 but six of them, including the top three, was completely unexpected. It has been a brilliant year for us," said Sri Rangam, the man behind the Delhi branch of Sri Ram Institute.

© Copyright 2000 - 2005 The Hindu

Hawkeye said...


i think the contents of your posts ( its quite humorous and certainly gives insight from a CBSE point of view) echoes mine.

just that you still feel not swtiching over to State Board is allright.

I put in X years in CBSE and so have quite a few friends who stayed back. Someof them quite inteligent and more capable than me. I felt sorry for them when they were struggling for seats in some remote "thookanayakampettipalayam" rural thaluk college. They went thro payment seats also. Whereas I was walkin in with a free seat in a top college in Madras.

/* It simply is a better curriculum and why change schools or syllabi, just for the greed of scoring higher in the board exams if for no other reason? */

I think this statement can only be justfied if you did XII std *only* for learning Math and Phy soundly and not for *any other* reason. That is XII std was a means and end in itself. BUT If you did XII std so that it could lead you to an advanced education (like college) then u must agree that the logic falls flat.

To Learn Math and Physics soundly is hardly a justification for chosing CBSE when the only place u are gonna use that Math is sitting between cows and ducks in some remote village college. This is classic short-term vision, which I and many of my friends carefully avoided. You wanna do engineering! get there!

From my experience the people who enjoyed some "i am getting good education" status for 2 years spent their rest of their lives doing BSc in Viveka etc. Their status was short-term and short-lived. The people who switched to state board certainly had better success.

Ram said...

hey bharath,

yeah.. but in tamilnadu, you gotta remember, there were a lot of backdoor management options, which would still ensure a decent college if you had the bucks.

Also, in India, it is all about perception. It takes big time guts for someone like you or me to state clearly that we have no interest in attempting for IIT (except to contest who comes out of the exam hall first). You gotta pretend that you are aspiring for those stars ;)

Anonymous said...

I did my whole of my school education CBSE. Agreed I only got into the some thookada engineering college in madras.
But what the hell. I still ended up very well than the girl who topped her school as well her engineering course.
Well I dared and she did not.
Atleast I was not one of those who was mugging up codes during practical exams and writing it. A practice I had never heard when I was in my high school - a practice totally unique to State board students. a practice followed by computer engineering students! What should we expect if all you have to do for one of the most important exams of your life is to just mug up 4 small 100 pages large printed books. I am not sure if the mugging up part includes fullstops and commas.
Nevertheless, whole of the education system in India sucks - including those golden utopian IIT. Of all my education I have enjoyed and benefitted to the maximum only from my masters in US. And I was not one of those toppers in my high school - probably just an above average student.

Anu Kris
PS: this comment was edited at the same place where your blogs got edited at:)

Anonymous said...

I firmly believe in the superfluos thingy.
Our entrance examination is damn superfluous, inspite of the claim that it filters ppl who mug up things. I dunno if it was a conscious decision to kick the CBSEs out, but it sure hinders them.
Regarding many ppl telling that TNPCEE was the one "brainy" part in our admission system, I beg to disagree.
Some twists here and there doesn't make our entrance brainy or sorts. Our board exams are plain reproduction stuff, agreed. But TNPCEE is no great shakes either. If that has been the case, the CBSE guys should be scoring decent in TNPCEE, as u pointed out. Physics should be physics regardless of the syllabus. But TNHSE/TNPCEE physics (or maths and chemistry for that case) is different!

Ram said...

Anu... aye aye... it is all up to the individual on what one achieves. I never got much out of my CBSE school, but still gained a lot of confidence during my college days...

I am still not sure which is the place where I got most of my education from!

Hawkeye said...

Anu Kris,

I too did feel that my "real " education was in the US where it was more problem solving type than muggin stuff.

/* But what the hell. I still ended up very well than the girl who topped her school as well her engineering course. */

this argument actually works against you. if you are now doing so well from a thukda engineering college in madras, imagine how well you could have done if u had chosen state board and gone into the Anna Unvs and RECs. From that colleges UIUCs MITs wuld look reachable. So u see what I mean. you limited your maximum range by a very early choice.

/* Well I dared and she did not. */

this is what precisely meant when i said " vision and direction is as/more important than hardwork and ability". If only you dared to take State Board and mug all that crap you would have gone places.

I am sure the "mugging up" part would have helped your career much better than "understanding he subject matter clearly".

Its all about short-term loses for more permanent and bigger long-term gains.

Dont worry about spelling mistakes/grammar etc.. I only do my best to avoid them but if they slip in anyway i dont care. as long my points get communicated its okay for me. i understood what you were trying to say and I am anyway not so nitpicky on english ( unless its very bad). So our editors are good people :-)

Hawkeye said...


i slept in my IIT exam hall :-) so i guess u win on the coming out part.

I agree the management seats actually was welcome relief to CBSE students.


correct! The TNPCEE exam is actually a Object Test 101. I really dont understand why so much fuss is amde out of a primitive objective testing scenario. Apart from teaching a person how to handle the basic strategies in Objective tests it does nothing else.

If a person cant do decently in an exam which is made out of a syllabus he/she has studied for a year then its really disgusting. I am not sure if the Rural students (to who this abolishment is attributed to) are feeling happy right now. They must be covering their faces in shame.

Forrest Gump said...

it was indeed a compliment.

Ram said...

Wow Bharath.. you do get some traffic in here!! (abt 30% of yourself :-)) Push some, my way! ;-) http://insideram.blogspot.com & http://moowe.blogspot.com

Arvind said...

weee....woooo...why dont u send this article to some mag or to the hindu.... today i saw one of those pieces in hindu regarding TNPCEE and students reaction to the scrapping...yuck!!it was one of the worst piece...miles away from reality..something like "the CBSE students are really unhappy that TNPCEE is scrapped bcos they will do better than the state board folks in such entrance exams blah blah..".well,i jus dunno if that journo who wrote this piece talked with any CBSE student...

i guess all this cry this year regarding TNPCEE is bcos the papers this time were a bit tough...err..i mean ,there is no usual " what is the boiling point/melting point of something" stuff and no simple dud questions...this time the paper was pretty good when compared to the previous year papers...but the students did badly...too too badly...i know many guys/gals near my place who scored more than 195 in MPC and scoring around 12-20 marks in maths entrance paper...

but alas...since they scrapped it,i am pretty sure the top colleges student quality will come down drastically...even though the entranc exams previously were superflous , it somehow managed to bring in some of the good students into good colleges...i think the equations are going to altered .sad.

and last heard,there r more than 300 folks who have 200/200 in MPC...tie..tie...heck! so,on what order r they going to allocate the seats to these students??balagurusamy and co. had a brainstroming session , inviting all the leadin Math professors and consultants all over India and they did some real complex analysis,scheduling and stuff and came up with this really really awesomely brilliant idea...well,hold ur breath guys...it will be based on ur DOB.


Suresh Ramani said...

well, the most important point in your blog has not been well acknowledged yet .. that is, one cannot and should not change the rules of the game after the game is completed - and that is a huge crime. I cannot believe such things still happen.

the common mistake in the admission policies across the country except for the IITs is that they don't have a common scale to measure the credentials of the students. 90% in one board is not same as 90% in another board. Even the system in BITS (percentile) does not solve the problem. A common entrance exam like SAT/GRE/GATE is the only solution unless in some strange way all the boards across India maintain the same standards.

Karthik said...

I contemplated changing from CBSE to State in X, but decided against it. At that time the perception was that majority of the people who get into the IITs are from CBSE. My batch had very few from state schools. Of course there is an exception to this. If you decide to go to State school in XI, then you are not taking the risk, you are playing it safe. You are losing out the opportunity of being with like minded students, who aspire to go to IIT.

Of course, I am talking about ten-fifteen years before, when I know for a fact that not many guys from the state school would seriously try for IIT. They would write the exam though, but not seriously prepare.

And lot of my CBSE friends who didnt make it to IIT made it to good colleges - PSG, REC etc. None made it to Anna though, but still if you try hard enough, you can crack TNPCEE with a CBSE syllabus.

Sandhya Ramachandran said...

Pl read my related post and i know a smile will light you up!

Anonymous said...

TIE is a BIG BIG problem in the new system!!

Its high-time they modify the board exam pattern and correction system..
They really suck!

Anonymous said...

A similar chain of thoughts ..


Anonymous said...

Entry to all RECs(now NITs) is through the AIEEE)All India Engg Entrance Exam conducted by CBSE, www.aieee.nic.in) & not through state exams anymore.

Neon said...

That was an awesome post bharat! Was very interesting. I feel that the government was wrong in scrapping the TNPCEE bcos they had just recently changed the syllabus for stateboard such that it was on par with the CBSE schools. This made the TNPCEE a fair yardstick. But the government had to ruin everything.

Rangarajan said...

Hundreds of Tamil youngsters are aspiring for the IAS. Let more and more of them make with more dedication and diligence. We congratulate those who made it.

Remember General Studies is crucial. Work doubly hard at it. Wish you guys and girls all th ebest.


Date:20/06/2005 URL: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2005/06/20/stories/2005062000490800.htm
All-India Services

FOR some years now, the number of successful candidates in the all-India Services from the South, especially Tamil Nadu, has been shrinking perceptibly in comparison with those from other States. This year, only 3 Tamilian looking names have qualified for 20 vacancies of IFS; 9 for 91 of IAS and 32 out of 422 for all other Services. Of course this year's figures are better than those of the middle and late 1990s, with the added surprise of a candidate from Tamil Nadu topping the list.

The declining number may not in itself be a reason for worry. Many bright candidates these days opt for the private sector or advanced studies abroad, whereas in earlier times, young aspirants had no other avenue to prove ourselves than all-India services.

I learn from Sriram's IAS at Delhi, which groomed Mr S. Nagarajan to become the topper this year, that the success rate is also determined by the mix of subjects. For instance, general studies including Constitution, current affairs, economy and science and technology are tough as there are no readily available books that do justice to the three dimensions of content, language and depth.

Reflecting their decisive role in the country's development, economic issues are coming to occupy a conspicuous position in the scheme of the examinations, calling for a thorough grasp of their complexities and intricacies. Sometimes candidates score better in, say, public administration and geography, than in technical subjects.

Proficiency in English matters but not as much as earlier. Ideas, analysis and presentation count far more in assessing the intellectual calibre, and this is as it should be. Delhi beckons as the ideal place for preparation because of the facility of easy access to think-tanks and the variety of seminars conducted by them as also to the faculties and libraries of the Jawaharlal Nehru and Delhi Universities.

Most candidates seem to find the need for coaching to be absolutely essential. Coaching centres run by the Universities and private institutions such as the Brilliant Tutorials and Sriram's are in great demand, because of their record of successful candidates and their ability to digest, process and present the material for use in the examinations, thus saving the time involved in preparation.

B. S. Raghavan

© Copyright 2000 - 2005 The Hindu Business Line

Anonymous said...

what is the last date for application form?

aieee-answer-key said...

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