Cut-Offs Fell To Single Digits In 2007
For all its reputation as one of the toughest competitive examinations in the world,
IIT-JEE has seen a dramatic fall in standards. Or so it seems from the steep fall in the cutoff marks of each of the three subjects in the last examination as compared with those of the previous one.
In 2006, the cutoff marks in Maths, Physics and Chemistry were
37, 48 and
55 respectively. The corresponding marks for
IIT-JEE 2007, in a bizarre twist, fell to as low as 1, 4 and 3.
Shocking as they are, the figures were kept under wraps in order to protect the credibility of
IITs, a global brand. The authorities have, however, been forced to disclose the cutoff marks thanks to applications under the Right to Information Act, 2005.
The reduction in cutoff marks to single digits has made a mockery of the concept which is meant to ensure that selected candidates display a certain minimum level of knowledge in each of the three subjects. This has opened up the possibility of students making it to the merit list of
IIT-JEE despite scoring nearly zero in the crucial test in mathematics.
The fall in the cutoffs in last year's examination defies logic as the overall performance of candidates actually went up. This is evident from the fact that the aggregate of the last candidate to have been selected in 2007 is 206, which is up from 154 the previous year.
The responses given by IITs to RTI applications show that the cutoffs declined in that manner because of a radical change in the procedure for calculating them. The change was introduced in 2007 after the authorities failed to explain to the Central Information Commission how they had arrived at the cutoffs for the previous year's examination.
The expose of the 2006 examination, which was the first to be held after RTI came into force, puts a question mark on a much-touted system that has been in existence for over four decades.
IIT-Kharagpur, which conducted the 2006 JEE, was found by CIC to have given two different versions of the procedure and, worse, neither of those statistical methods led to the stated cutoff marks. The authorities were hard pressed to explain why the cutoff for mathematics, for instance, was only 37, but 55 for chemistry.
Since IIT-Kharagpur was also forced under RTI to give a breakup of the performance of all the candidates of the
2006 JEE, several instances of more meritorious students becoming casualties of arbitrarily fixed cutoffs came to
light. Given the impetus provided by RTI, IIT-Mumbai, which conducted the
2007 JEE, came up with yet another cutoff procedure.