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In India, entrance examinations are chiefly confined to medicine, engineering, and management. These range from the BITS Pilani admission test and IIT-JEE where only one in a hundreds can hope to get admission to state level entrances which are many and varied. The stiff competition has led to a situation where many students neglect their school studies and focus solely on ‘entrance coaching’ which is time-consuming and expensive. This has led many states to scrap the entrances and base admissions on the school leaving marks which, unfortunately are none too reliable. Experts point out that in a country where many different boards are present common entrances are essential, but application skills rather than cramming should be stressed on. Frequent changes in the pattern of examination are essential since sticking to a ‘standard text’ or ‘standard pattern’ alone will favour the coaching industry and the rote-learners.

Apart from the secondary and higher secondary examinations, various universities have their own admission and qualification criteria. These may be organized and conducted by the universities themselves, by an examination board related to an affiliated group of universities. There has been some attempt at standardization at the central level with common examinations like the CAT and AIEEE now commonly recognized by universities.

Typically, entrance examinations for universities tend to be:

  • Competitive – i.e. examinations are ranked and choices of university and course are given in the ascending order of rank. Standard practices like waiting lists are accounted in. This differs from SSLC and HSC in that there is no grading threshold for passing the examination.
  • objective – i.e. based on multiple choice questions. The rationale is as much to save work on evaluating millions of candidates using automated means as to balance out the effect of subjective scores on conventional (long-answer) papers that a student faces in his HSC.

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