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.