Some kindly soul applied for information under the Right To Information Act, and NOW we know. A report came out in the Times of India yesterday that in 2007, the IIT JEE had single digit cutoffs! The thing which caused this was the new standard for setting cutoffs, which is now done by calculating the highest marks of the bottom 20% of students. This year too, the same system is going to be adopted.
The year before that, that cutoff was close to about 142 marks. The reason which seems to have triggered the new thing is the fact that many students end up with marks around 200, say, overall, but fail to clear the cutoff in an individual subject by a few marks. Certainly this is not the “OMG, what will happen to IITs now that people with one mark get in” situation that Times of India is portraying it to be. If anything, it only makes life easier for the people giving the exam. However, the ‘actual’ selection cutoff might as well have gone up since last year saw an easier paper.
I think the JEE people acted very cleverly in setting the cutoff low. Yes of course, they get brownie points for ‘reducing stress’, but what they effectively did is to hide the ACTUAL overall cutoff score from which students are called for counselling – for after all, even if subject cutoff has been set to single digits, the ACTUAL score from which the top 8000 or so candidates are called for counselling is obviously way higher. Maybe it was a conscious decision on their part – they KNEW that the RTI act exists, and since they’d been forced to disclose such data in 2006, they took measures to protect such data in the future. All, I guess, in their new crusade to erode the importance of coaching institutes.
Times of India, of late, seems to have been turning quite daft. One example is the doomsday scenario sort of situation that they’re depicting over here. The other, was a recent incident when some dumb Indian minister read out ‘facts’ being circulated in spam chain mail about how great Indians are – and the ToI went ahead and reported it with a lot of patriotic chest thumping. And it’s just not about ToI, because off late, MOST media agencies in India seem to be forgetting the basics of journalism – like responsibility and fact checking.