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Thursday, September 15, 2011

GATE Eligibility - No to 3rd Year Students in 2012

I first read about change in GATE eligibility in Prof. Giridhar Madras's blog. I talked to a few colleagues at IITK also, and like the comments in that blog, here too I heard that the major reason for not allowing 3rd year students to give GATE was that they can't handle so many students.

This is yet another manifestation of the arrogance of IITs. If you can't conduct this exam, then give it up. It is not your exam. It is MHRD's exam. This is not just for admission to IITs and IISc. This is for admission to ALL MTech programs in the country, where the stipend is charged to MHRD. CBSE has had no problem in conducting an exam for 12 lakh candidates, and should be happy to conduct yet another exam. CBSE has done a far superior job of conducting AIEEE than IITs have done for JEE (at least the way exam is conducted - I don't want to digress by discussing the paper content). And I am sure CBSE can do a far better job of conducting GATE than IITs can. If CBSE refuses to conduct, then we can consider outsourcing it to BITS Pilani, Merit-trac, Prometric, and any number of other players. All of them have huge experience of conducting large public exams.

Have IITs ever bothered to ask other universities when GATE should be conducted. Note that IITs have a small number of MTech seats. Others admit more MTech students than IITs do. But there is no mechanism for anyone to give any inputs. Most universities would want to start the admission process earlier than April, and therefore, would want GATE to be held earlier than February. But IITs won't listen. I know of some places who were seriously considering keeping some seats for "early admission" for those who would have given GATE in the 3rd year. But that won't be possible now.

GATE has also become a way to test your basic knowledge in your field of engineering. Many students would give GATE in the 6th semester, and if they get good score, highlight that in the CV for placement. The industry values such students, but this can't be done any more.

In fact, even at IITK, if someone sent us an email in March telling us that s/he has got a very good GATE score (better than our typical cutoff for calling for MTech admission), we will try our best to invite him/her for summer internship in the hope that next year s/he will join our graduate program. That would no longer be possible.

For many years, there is a talk about GATE becoming a multiple day, online exam. But trust IITs to not do that. Only a few disciplines will have an online exam even after trials for a couple of years. They are so afraid of technology.

All this because IITs and IISc can't find enough invigilators and they are too rigid to consider alternatives. They could have had, for example, more subjects in online format, and spread offline papers on to 3-4 sessions by having the exam on Saturdays as well, thereby reducing the need of faculty members going to various centers.

They have increased the cost of JEE application fee to Rs. 1800. They could have done a similar hike for GATE as well, and use that for solving problems (like going for online exams in more subjects, paying more for larger and better exam centers).

16 comments:

Lucky Agarwal said...

Sir,

This news does come as a heartbreak for all aspiring prefinal year students who have already spent quality time preparing for GATE 2012 when they could have done some projects or extracurricular work.

Also our juniors now blame us for the waste of their time as we scored well in GATE 2011 while we were in our 6th semester and they followed in our footsteps hoping to do the same.

iitmsriram said...

Not directly connected to the subject. The JEE fee going upto 1800 is a revenue neutral proposal; female applicants will pay zero fee and the remaining full fee paying male candidates will take over this charge, raising their fees from 1000 to 1800.

Dheeraj Sanghi said...

@Sriram, It is not revenue neutral. For 70% of applicants it has gone up from 900 to 1800 (last year, it was 900 for online applications, 1800 is for online applications, since there won't be any offline applications this year). For 20% of the applicants (females), it has gone down from 450 to 0. For 10% of the applicants (SC/ST/PD), the change from 450 to xxx is not known yet, so let us assume that it stays at 450. Even if you assume that because of this the percentage of female applicants will become 25%, the overall revenues will still be larger than what would have been the revenues based on last years' fees.

Shishir said...

Why is GATE important in 6th semester if it is used exclusively for M.Tech admissions?

Dheeraj Sanghi said...

@Shishir, how would you react to ETS decision to have GRE only for those students who can convince ETS that they are likely to graduate in the next 3 months. If you read my blog carefully, I have given several examples of advantages of 6th semester GATE, including that of early "admission" to MTech. If IITs were to move GATE to early part of 7th semester, I wouldn't insist that they allow 5th semester students to give GATE. But there too, to deny 5th semester students to "practice" GATE just because you can't conduct a larger exam is ridiculous. As I said in the blog, let the exam be conducted by someone else, if the only issue is that IITs do not have the competency to conduct large public exams. There are many organizations in the country who have that competency.

We need to understand that while JEE is an exam of IITs, by IITs, for IITs, GATE is different. It is primarily for institutes and universities other than IITs. IITs (and IISc) only conduct the exam on behalf of MHRD. And as organizers, they can't be allowed to dictate that they will conduct an exam for 4 lakhs and not 5 lakhs (or whatever) number of students.

Shishir said...

There is no harm in allowing students to try out GATE a year before. Yes, you have a point that just because IIT/IISc don't have the infrastructure to organize the test for so many students or multiple times in a year, IIT should gracefully exit from exam conducting business and hand it over to some other agencies (which are available in the country and doing their job competently).

In fact, let me share that there is feeling gaining ground in Indian industry that in the wake of exponential proliferation of 'engineering colleges', there is a need to normalize the engineering knowledge/college performance (whatever!) of students.
Comparing GATE score of the student is one such solution being talked about.
If this is the case or becomes so in future, it seem only right that the examination be conducted by some other professional agency which can handle any number of students . Maybe , the paper setting as it is, may be done by IIT/IISc , just for the sake of uniformity of standards .

Abhijith said...

> For many years, there is a talk about
> GATE becoming a multiple day, online
> exam. But trust IITs to not do that.
> Only a few disciplines will have an
> online exam even after trials for a
> couple of years. They are so afraid
> of technology.

Are you also considering the plight of students taking up these online examinations?

Students need a paper and pen/pencil to calculate, work-out, illustrate-for-themselves in the course of finding a solution. To do so a student would have to to switch from the computer(computer screen, keyboard and mouse) to paper-pen/pencil multiple times in the course of answering a single question. This is very highly distracting and effects the students in a significant way.

I will not buy the argument that most solutions can be worked in ones head or on an editor. It can't be done.

Also the argument that the playing field will be the same for one and all is not acceptable. The point of the examination is to test a student competency w.r.t to his/her engineering field and not to see who does well when distracted. If the later were to be the case one could as well play loud rock music in the examination hall as the students take up GATE.(I am not saying that rock music distraction is equal to switching between-computer-paper distraction. I am using an anology to point that distraction is distraction. Do not take offence.)

The reason I want to point out this is because posts like these in a small way end up influencing inexperienced public and(maybe even stake holders in this case) and thus contributing to the cause of online examinations.

In my opinion online examinations should not come to practice until the day we have specialized hardware which seamlessly allow students to work out solutions and answer them using a single interface instead of having to deal with the distracting of switching from paper to computers(the present day work stations).

Also note that my grouse is against your advocacy for online examinations only.

Shantanu said...

"CBSE has done a far superior job of conducting AIEEE than IITs have done for JEE (at least the way exam is conducted - I don't want to digress by discussing the paper content) "

But don't you think that the paper content matters a lot when it comes to "the integrity of an examination". Also a very important point I want to mention is that AIEEE is not subjected to as much scrutiny by the media and students, as much JEE is. AIEEE has also had mistakes in their papers in past years but no one blew a horn over those mistakes.

Also considering the AIEEE paper (which gives questions directly from engineering preparation guides), I am surprised that you have praised it. After all if one talks about "coaching" impact, the impact would be felt most in AIEEE with questions coming directly from engineering preparation guides. Something one can see in the results as well. Freshers generally tend to get a better rank in JEE as opposed to droppers who tend to get a better rank in AIEEE (at least that was the case when JEE papers were subjective). In fact there were many cases where student secured a rank of 7000 in JEE and 8000 in AIEEE in the first attempt. In the second he secured a 6000 in JEE but 800 in AIEEE. That's what "coaching" impact can do. So quite surprising it comes from you!!

I would like to repeat again the reason one gets a perception that AIEEE is conducted better is because it is not subjected to so much scrutiny and of course questions cannot be wrong (as they are directly pasted from Krishna guides)as opposed to JEE which is both a more important examination and also doesn't have the luxury of taking questions directly from Competition preparation books.

Dheeraj Sanghi said...

@Shantanu, The reason for keeping the content and organization separate is that it is possible to keep the two separate in any exam. If IITs can not conduct an exam of 5 lakh students, they can still provide a question paper. That does not depend on whether there are 4 lakh students or 5 lakh students. So while I have opinion on content too, I want to focus on the exam conduct only. And as far as conduct is concerned, I don't think it is just a matter of more media glare on JEE. AIEEE also is covered by media quite a bit. In fact, I would say exactly the opposite. Since IIT faculty are involved in JEE and they generally would refrain from speaking anything in public, therefore, problems with JEE are not in public, while in case of AIEEE, the people conducting the exam do not have as much stake in it, and hence it is a much more transparent system, and any mistake is out there in the open quickly.

Dheeraj Sanghi said...

@Shishir, I agree with you. It would be wonderful if GATE becomes a standard to evaluate graduates and compare graduates across colleges. This would not only help the employers a lot, but also help the 12th class students and their parents, who currently have to depend on "perception" rankings by media to decide where the quality of education could be better.

But IITs have done something else too. They used to have a code for each college in the country (and a special code for all colleges that they would have missed in their list). They could, in principle, give out information about colleges - which colleges had more than 10 students giving GATE in the same stream, and what was the average marks for those students, for example. But they wouldn't give out this information, and since last year (or may be year before that), they have stopped collecting that information as well.

Giri@iisc said...

I agree with you. This decision seems to be based partly because JAM is now held on the same day as GATE. Previously, IITs used to hold three exams for postgraduate studies: JAM, JMET and GATE. Now, JAM and GATE are being held on the same day and JMET is cancelled.

I do not buy the argument that you can not find enough institute representatives to conduct the exam. Pay them well (say Rs 25 K) and give them three star accommodation in the center, and reimburse flight charges to the exam center. I know still some IITs require representatives to go by train even if there is a direct flight.

Thanks

Giridhar Madras

Giri@iisc said...

I agree with you. This decision seems to be based partly because JAM is now held on the same day as GATE. Previously, IITs used to hold three exams for postgraduate studies: JAM, JMET and GATE. Now, JAM and GATE are being held on the same day and JMET is cancelled.

I do not buy the argument that you can not find enough institute representatives to conduct the exam. Pay them well (say Rs 25 K) and give them three star accommodation in the center, and reimburse flight charges to the exam center. I know still some IITs require representatives to go by train even if there is a direct flight.

Thanks

Giridhar Madras

Akhi.. said...

As per my view one of the plus point in not allowing 3rd year students is to make a students view more clear in getting into any institute for his/her PG course.

I was discussing the issue with my friends and one important point raised was:
Let say a person X has scored GATE rank of 1000, now s/he is not aware that how many 3rd year students are ahead of him (Worst case can be all 1-999 rank holder are 3rd year and 1000 rank can get into IIT) and will think that s/he will not get admission in any prestigious institute like IITs or IISc and will not even apply for it. Had seen such cases last year.

But ya completely eliminating 3rd year is not the best solution.

And if the reason for eliminating 3rd year is that they can't handle such a large audience then they should give it up to some other agencies and just do the job of setting paper.

Avik said...

There are lot of random factors in an exam performance, so counting on the better of two years' scores a very reasonable approach or most students. GRE/TOEFL also allows the multiple attempts. But GATE is conducted only once a year, so if the candidate messes up the score in 4th year, an otherwise better candidate might loose chance of masters admission at his preferred institute.

I appeared both in 3rd and 4th year, surprisingly my 4th year score was worse than 3rd years score despite 1 year preparation.

Are they doing some kind of cost-cutting ? but isn't the exam GATE already OCR based ?

I like the idea of publishing the stats of different undergrads colleges, students will get better idea during admission decision.

Gautam said...

Hello Everyone,I am doing final year of Diploma in the field of Civil Engineering,
After this I will go for AMIE. Section A of AMIE for Diploma Holder contains 4 papers.
After clearing Section A of AMIE, I will be able to sit in the GATE Examination according to the criteria of
Organizing Institute, IIT Delhi (Candidates with qualifications obtained through examinations conducted by
professional societies recognized by UPSC/AICTE (e.g. AMIE by Institute of Engineers (India);
AMICE by Institute of Civil Engineers (India)) as equivalent to B.E./B.Tech.
Those who have completed section A or equivalent of such professional courses are also eligible)
So I want to know that Is It be healthy decision to go for GATE after clearing the Section A of AMIE
Or I should complete both the sections of AMIE Than GATE Examination.
>>Which one will be a better decision for me?

Gautam said...

Hello Everyone,I am doing final year of Diploma in the field of Civil Engineering,
After this I will go for AMIE. Section A of AMIE for Diploma Holder contains 4 papers.
After clearing Section A of AMIE, I will be able to sit in the GATE Examination according to the criteria of
Organizing Institute, IIT Delhi (Candidates with qualifications obtained through examinations conducted by
professional societies recognized by UPSC/AICTE (e.g. AMIE by Institute of Engineers (India);
AMICE by Institute of Civil Engineers (India)) as equivalent to B.E./B.Tech.
Those who have completed section A or equivalent of such professional courses are also eligible)
So I want to know that Is It be healthy decision to go for GATE after clearing the Section A of AMIE
Or I should complete both the sections of AMIE Than GATE Examination.
>>Which one will be a better decision for me?