Ever since the ranks to the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) main were released by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), a vehement opposition to the normalization process went viral across the nation. Many see this as hue and cry created by those who could not score well in the board exam. However, the situation is absolutely contrary to that. It is not a scuffle between those who have scored well and those who haven’t; it is a friction between those who have benefited by a prejudiced calculation and those who haven’t.

What is normalization all about?

For those of us who are yet to be abreast with what the normalization process is all about may want to read the following:

The Normalization process is a method that enables the Human Resources Development (HRD) Ministry to take the marks of the board exam into account while awarding ranks to the students vying for entering into the coveted National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIITs). The students and their counterparts were informed about a system of this kind coming into place sometime in December this year. However, the information made available to the students was not just misleading, it was ‘deceptive’. The students were informed that the board marks and the JEE (main) marks would be taken into account following a 40:60 ratio and that the sum of these ratios would be deciding their ranks.

However, the system that was eventually put into action and the one that was initially pronounced are poles apart. The actual system followed by the CBSE was that the percentile equivalent of the board marks in the JEE mains would be the factor contributing to the 40% board weight-age and not the absolute percentile in the boards itself.
For example,

Student Name: XXXXXX

  1.  Marks in JEE mains= 226 (a)
  2.  Percentile in JEE mains= 99.46 (b)
  3. Percentage in the board exams (CBSE)= 90.4% (c)
  4. Percentile in the board exams (CBSE)= 93.54 (d)
  5. Marks obtained in the JEE (main) by a student who scored the same percentile (93.54 in the JEE main)= 129.6 (e)

Calculating the JEE main component= 226 (a) × 0.6= 135.6

Calculating the Board exam component= 129.6 (b) × 0.4= 51.8

Total= 187.4

 

Why we have a problem with it?

The reasons that make us strongly dispute this system are enumerated in the following points:

1. The students were officially informed about this ‘appalling’ Normalization system in the second week of May 2013 which was 3 weeks after the JEE mains had taken place and  a whopping one and half month after the board exams took place. This terribly timed relaying of information left the students helpless and dazed about how it was going to affect their results.

2. Different boards differ in terms of difficulty levels, number of students, checking procedures etc. The normalization process certainly gave an edge to the students taking their board exams from their respective states over those who took their board exams from Nationalized Boards.  In order to gauge the magnitude of difference between any two such students you may pay heed to the following example.

Student Name= XXXXXX

Board= CBSE

Board Percentage= 90.2%

Marks in JEE (main) = 267

Rank= Beyond 5000

 

Student Name= ZZZZZZ

Board= Rajasthan Board

Board Percentage= 90%

Marks in JEE (main) = 195

Rank= 4400

 

3. IIIT-Hyderabad, which is one of the most coveted institutes that admit students through the JEE (main) pulled its admission procedure out of this system. After having realized the paucity of credibility of the ranks allotted by the CBSE, they started counting the marks in the JEE (main) as the sole yardstick for admitting students into its deemed campus.

4. Almost a decade back the entrance to the IITs changed its pattern from partially subjective to purely objective. This decision was taken in purview of the fact that the subjective system could be flawed with bias and prejudice. The board exams, as we all know, are purely subjective in nature. The number of people who took the board exam this year was a humongous 9 lakhs. With so many copies to check one can hardly expect the teachers to be marking the exams without being victimized by the prejudice of ‘looking for good handwriting’. Now that the board marks are such huge governing factors, one can expect more calligraphists from the NITs than research workers!  

 

The effects that one can expect if such a system prevails

1. Boards which were expected to be mere contributing factors would now be counted as deciding factors.

2. The credibility and value of the NITs would drop considerably.

3. Mr. Sibal, who was the HRD Minister when this system was proposed, claimed that he was working towards reducing the pressure on the students. However, looking at situation in perspective of the recent advancements, one can realize that this system would in fact increase the pressure on the students. This is because the students would now have to work in three tiers:-

1. For the boards: In order to bag good ranks in the JEE (main).

2. For the JEE (main): In order to qualify for the JEE (advance) (the entrance exam to the IITs, held in June)

3. For the JEE (advance): In order to get admitted to the IITs.

Any lay man, who would have read the above three points, can measure the magnitude of pressure the students are going to suffer.

“To take care of the difference in Board marks (like CBSE topper has almost 100% and UP Board topper has 82% etc. In that case if theoretically there is only 1 board then there should be no normalization and 60% of JEE mains should be added to 40% of Class XII. Even in this simple case this scheme will not do this. It will distort the Board marks. To me it looks a grossly unfair scheme.” said IIT Delhi professor Sanjeev Sanghi

He also added, “The Students who had the aptitude and JEE (Main) score for good ranks suffered because luck played its part and they got less marks due to strict checking . The board exams became overall deciding factors.”

Some Examples Supporting the above arguments

1. Example to support the argument that boards are playing the role of deciding factors whereas the JEE (main) has become almost redundant:

Student Name: XXXXXX

Board: CBSE

Marks in JEE (main): 99

Board Percentage: 94.6

AIR: 34000 (approximately.)

  

Student Name: ZZZZZZ

Board: CBSE

Marks in JEE (main): 135

Board Percentage: 90

AIR: 60000 (approximately.)

NOTE: Student XXXXXX could not even surpass the cut off (113 marks) set for being allowed to take the JEE (advance)

  

2. Example to support the argument that different boards differ radically in terms of their competition levels.

Student Name= XXXXXX

Board= CBSE

Board Percentage= 90.2%

Marks in JEE (main) = 267

Rank= Beyond 5000

 
Student Name= ZZZZZZ

Board= Rajasthan Board

Board Percentage= 90%

Marks in JEE (main) = 195

Rank= 4400

 
3. Example to explain how major the role played by the boards was

 Student Name: XXXXXX

Board: CBSE

Marks in JEE (main): 201

Board Percentage: 88

AIR: 23000 (approximately.)

 
Student Name: ZZZZZZ

Board: CBSE

Marks in JEE (main): 201

Board Percentage: 94

AIR: 9000 (approximately.)

 
NOTE: A difference of 6% in the board exams attributed to a difference of 14000 ranks. This implies that every percent scored in the board exam was worth a monstrous 2334 rank difference.

Student Name= XXXXXX

Board= CBSE

Board Percentage= 93.8

Marks in JEE (main) = 155

Rank= 23000 (approximately)

 
 

Student Name= ZZZZZZ

Board= CBSE Board

Board Percentage= 88%

Marks in JEE (main) = 201

Rank= 23000 (approximately)

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Divyansh Kaushik

Nationalist. Maths Geek. Manchester United for life... I want to visit Old Trafford one day to see United play. GGMU..

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