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IIT-JEE analysis: The paper that was
Ajay Antony
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April 09, 2007

This year's IIT-JEE -- conducted on April 8 -- sprang few surprises for the well-prepared student.

Here is why:

Same pattern

One concern for the students was whether the patterns would be different in the morning and afternoon tests. They were not, and the students were spared extra efforts required to size up two different patterns.

The break-up

The morning and afternoon papers had three different parts each, for physics, chemistry and mathematics respectively. There was no separate time limit within the three-hour papers for individual subjects.

Each part had four sections. They had the following types of questions:

The only variant that had not been present in JEE 2006 was the assertion -- reasoning type.

There were 22 questions in each subject, which would fetch a maximum of 81 points. This would take the total marks in the paper to 243.

There were 10 versions of the paper. The version codes were from CODE 0 to CODE 9.

And, for the first time, the test-taker could take away the JEE question paper.

The logic

Although the logic of the questions in this section was not difficult, it was "tricky and tortuous," according to a senior academician who has been training JEE students for several years.

A and B are given. Does B follow A? Is it the correct explanation for A?  Or how correct is each by itself? The options by themselves were simple. But when a student was expected to pick the choice that best described the situation, what was called in question was much more than subject knowledge.

Negative marking

The only section without negative marking was Section 4.

This section really challenged the students. You get six marks for each correct answer. But to get a correct answer, you would have to darken as many as 10 ovals from a grid featuring 16 ovals. That is, you would have to physically darken 10 ovals to get six points. Get one less or one more and you forfeit the six points.

Skill levels

~ Section 1 (Straight objective type)

This was the traditional multiple choice question pattern with one correct option. The questions were elementary and the skill required would be to simply understand the question, find the answer and pick that from among the choices.

~ Section 2 (Assertion -- reasoning type)

This stretched the student more. What was needed was the ability to link two different statements and, as a doctor would do, decide on cause and effect.

The skill required was to understand the real links between concepts, that is, the why and how of the linkages.

For example, a question in mechanics could have been testing concepts from more than one chapter of your standard XI book.

~ Section 3 (Linked comprehension type)

The three questions that followed a small problem description had to be solved on the basis of the given information. It was similar to the reading comprehension-type questions.

The difference is, the student had to bring in the knowledge acquired in the concerned subject, and not just answer on the basis of the passage. The questions were also interlinked in some cases.

~ Section 4 (Matrix -- match type)

How many roads lead from City A to City B? And from City C to city D?

Getting from one point to another was not the issue here. You needed to know all the paths. The skill required -- complete mastery of the topography. That is what this section of questions also sought in the students.

Classification of questions

If a serious student were not under exam-hall induced time-pressure, in the physics part of paper 1, he could score up to 68 marks from the 19 questions that could be classified as easy and medium difficulty level.

Obviously, the remaining part was of the difficult variety.

In the chemistry part of paper 2, the corresponding figures would be 75 marks from 20 questions. And in the mathematics part, 68 marks from 19 questions.

But the exam hall atmosphere does things to even a serious, well-prepared student. And the most difficult part is to actually mark off the questions as easy, medium and difficult, under exam conditions.

Answer key

-- Ajay Antony is vice president, T.I.M.E, an organisation that prepares candidates for courses like the MBA and the MCA and competitive examinations like CAT, the GRE and GMAT.

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