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Want to get into the IIT? 10 FACTS to know

By Partha Halder
May 27, 2020 09:40 IST
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Even if you score 92 per cent in your board examination, it will have no bearing in JEE Advanced rank, as both exams are different even though the syllabus is same.

Three IITs in QS top 200 rankings

IMAGE: Did you know that 17% seats are reserved for girl students in every branch of engineering? Photograph: Kind courtesy Pixabay.com

The Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) is considered to be the best technical education institutes in India.

Over the years, IITs have evolved and have secured international recognition for its immense contribution to the global workforce. It attracts the finest of talent for its flagship (B.Tech) undergraduate programmes.

Every year 10 to 12 lakh students aspire to study in their dream IIT.

Aspirants go through a gruelling selection process before getting into their dream college. This year due to the global pandemic posed by COVID-19 and subsequent national lockdown in our country, the most coveted entrance exam & gateway to the IITs, the JEE Advanced has been postponed, and will now be held on August 23, 2020.

Hence students have got an extended preparatory time. Aspirants are completely into preparatory mode at the moment. In fact their focus on JEE Advanced exam is so high that they rarely get an opportunity to look at various other aspects associated with their dream college which otherwise can enable them to strategize their preparation effectively.

In the absence of clear understanding of important facts, coupled with several myths, most often the journey to IIT becomes challenging.

So, let us look at few top things that every aspirant must know apart from cracking JEE. Some of the points may redefine the way students are looking forward to crack JEE Advanced, may end up making some strategic shifts so as to be successful in their endeavour.

1. Students who are expected to score well in board exam (say 92%) will get a good rank in JEE Advanced too, since the syllabus of JEE and CBSE (class XI / XII) is almost same. Is that true?

No. A good score in board exam will have no bearing in JEE Advanced rank, as both exams are different even though the syllabus is same.

Board exam evaluates a student in absolute terms; as there is no limitation on the number of students who can pass the exam, so logically all students appearing in the exam can qualify whereas JEE Advanced is a competitive exam, it selects only few students out of all the aspirants, hence it evaluates in relative terms, which means the performance of a student is assessed with respect to other students and the best are selected.

So on a given day, a student has to perform better than others to get selected, even a very high score may not guarantee selection as others might have scored better.

JEE Advanced is a conceptual based paper, designed to test a student’s comprehension, reasoning and logical and analytical thinking.

Questions asked are application based and requires deep thinking. So even if a student has prepared well for board exam, but lacks application of learned concepts, they will find it extremely difficult to solve JEE Advanced questions.

In a board exam, a student can even earn marks partially depending upon how much they have written (due to step marking) even if they are not aware of the complete solution whereas in JEE Advanced one can either earn or lose marks if they attempt or at best can leave a question to prevent negative marks.

2. What is the right time to start preparation for JEE?

An early start is desirable as time is the most precious thing. More the time devoted better it is.

The quantum of effort gets distributed over a period of time. The progress is gradual and smooth. The skills required to be successful can be developed and nurtured over a long duration. So students are under less pressure. They would have greater bandwidth to pursue on extra-curricular activities which helps in development of other important skills and overall personality. 

Although there is no thumb rule on the right time to start but it largely depends on the student’s potential and their set goal. It is recommended that the moment a student decides to take up engineering as a career irrespective in which class they decide, they should immediately start their preparatory journey without wasting further time.

As a result students would be passionate about their academic journey which will in turn help to improve the quality of daily efforts; focus will be on learning & ways to improve various skills. Students will start optimising their resources, time and avoid distractions.

3. Studying lot of books or solving many questions, are these compulsory to get a good rank in JEE Advanced?

Referring too many books from different sources could be counter-productive.

Every author as its own style of writing and presenting things, so by referring to different books, it may add to confusion which could eventually lead to wastage of valuable time. So it is suggested that students should refer to books from a single source; the level of books should be as per the students learning capability so that there is no level mismatch hence students must seeks experts help.

Most often it is seen that a student start solving very difficult questions from multiple sources thinking that it will help them to become better. In the process they end up solving non-relevant questions which are generally not asked in the exam. Valuable time is also lost. So, solving relevant questions is extremely important. So one must subscribe to a good all India level test series, where they would get relevant test papers prepared by experts administered in a simulated testing environment.

4. It's a myth that to qualify JEE Advanced, a student has to score very high marks

The common belief amongst engineering aspirants is that one has to score very high marks in JEE Advanced. Moreover it is an extremely tough exam. So, one should be extremely talented in order to qualify. But, in reality it is not a tough exam and you do not need to score high marks.

JEE Advanced is highly competitive exam, around 2.5 lakhs students compete who are shortlisted from 10-12 Lakh students through JEE Main. So, the level of competition makes it really difficult for the students to feature in the common merit All India Rank list.

If we look at the cut-off i.e. the minimum marks required to feature in the All India Rank list, you will be astonished to know that the cut-off marks percentage is just around 30%, which is less than even a school exam.

So JEE Advanced is a low scoring exam.The table below, illustrates the cut-off percentage marks of last 7 years i.e 2013 to 2019.

IIT cut off marks from 2013 to 2019

5. Excellent opportunity for girl students to study in an IIT

As a part of empowering girl child initiative, IITs are now encouraging girl students to choose engineering career.

The government and the IIT council have taken several measures in the last few years to increase the number of girl students opting to join IIT for pursuing technical education.

One of the first step was to introduce seat reservation for girl students.

As per the latest guidelines, 17% seats are now reserved for girl students in every branch of engineering.

Apart from that, the entry criteria for girls students has been relaxed substantially. In fact it is now a lot easier for a girl student to get their desired branch of engineering at a lower rank compared to general category students.

The table below illustrates the 'All India Rank' wise cut-off of few branches of engineering (closing rank at which a girl student got admission)

You can check the entire list i.e for all branches across all IITs here!

Girls category

6. Eligibility: 75% marks in Class XII board exam and/or in top 20 percentile in your board

The general perception among students is 75% marks in aggregate in class XII board exam along with JEE Advanced rank will make them eligible for admission into the IITs.

Well, 75% marks can make them eligible but it will also depend upon the board exam marks of other students who have qualified JEE Advanced.

There could be an instance wherein a student securing 75% marks may not feature within top 20 percentile in their board, which may impact the admission process. So students should try to score as much as possible in their board exam.

7. Total intake is around 14,000 students as per Common Merit List (CML)

The total intake of students through JEE Advanced across 23 IITs is around 14,000.

8. There are 50+engineering programmes being offered at the IITs

At one point, there used to be core 6-8 branches of engineering.

Today, several emerging fields of technology have opened up.

A wide variety of branches/sub branches and specific field of study have led to the introduction of several new and innovative fields of technical education at the IITs. So, the total number of engineering programmes are more than 50.

9. Dual degrees option, 5 year integrated programmes

IITs offer dual degrees, which are essentially 5 year integrated programmes on several new and interesting fields of technology.

The degrees offered are mostly integrated MTech. These integrated programmes helps a student to save 1 year of education as conventional BTech (4 years) + MTech ( 2 years) is equal to 6 years of education.

10. Lateral branch shift

There is a provision wherein a student can shift to a different engineering branch after the second semester based on their academic performance i.e. CGPA score.

Every IIT would have its own criteria for allowing students to change their branch. So, a student should refer to the guidelines thoroughly before considering to apply for branch shift. 


Partha Halder is centre head and head of chemistry Department at FIITJEE Punjabi Bagh that trains students from grades 6 to 12 to appear in various competitive examinations. He can be contacted on ga@rediff-inc.com.


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