An entrance examination is an examination that many educational institutions use to select students for admission. These exams may be administered at any level of education, from primary to higher education, although they are more common at higher levels.
Entrance Examinations in India trace their roots to the University of Calcutta, which when established in 1857, introduced the practice to decide eligibility for admission. In that exam, one student was passed in every four candidates. From Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka only 219 students were qualified. Only 162 were passed from the Bangladesh, Pakistan, Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Madhaya Pradesh. In the absence of a standardized school graduation examination, the University’s entrance examinations were used as a substitute, known later as Matriculation examinations. Post-independence India has different systems of education whose syllabus and examination process are governed by both central and state-based statutory boards. Grades 10 and 12 which mark the culmination of secondary and higher secondary education, have standardized final examinations, referred to as the Secondary School Leaving Certificate (SSLC) examination after grade 10 (class X) and the Higher Secondary Examination(HSC) after grade 12 .In India, entrance examinations are chiefly confined to medicine, engineering, and management. These range from the BITS Pilani admission test and IIT-JEE where only one in a hundreds can hope to get admission to state level entrances which are many and varied. The stiff competition has led to a situation where many students neglect their school studies and focus solely on ‘entrance coaching’ which is time-consuming and expensive. This has led many states to scrap the entrances and base admissions on the school leaving marks which, unfortunately are none too reliable. Experts point out that in a country where many different boards are present common entrances are essential, but application skills rather than cramming should be stressed on. Frequent changes in the pattern of examination are essential since sticking to a ‘standard text’ or ‘standard pattern‘ alone will favour the coaching industry and the rote-learners.
Apart from the secondary and higher secondary examinations, various universities have their own admission and qualification criteria. These may be organized and conducted by the universities themselves, by an examination board related to an affiliated group of universities. There has been some attempt at standardization at the central level with common examinations like the CAT and AIEEE now commonly recognized by universities.
Typically, entrance examinations for universities tend to be:
- competitive – i.e. examinations are ranked and choices of university and course are given in the ascending order of rank. Standard practices like waiting lists are accounted in. This differs from SSLC and HSC in that there is no grading threshold for passing the examination.
- objective – i.e. based on multiple choice questions. The rationale is as much to save work on evaluating millions of candidates using automated means as to balance out the effect of subjective scores on conventional (long-answer) papers that a student faces in his HSC.
Some of these exams (particularly the UPSC’s Engineering Services Examination, BITS Pilani admission test, IIT-JEE, CAT and AIPMT) are considered among the toughest in the world, with lakhs of students competing for a few thousand seats.
It is not uncommon for a university to use multiple examinations for admission. Engineering schools in India usually admit 15% of their students through the national-level AIEEE and the remaining 85% based on their scores in the entrance exam conducted by the state in which the college is located. Government-run medical schools use a similar pattern, basing admissions on the candidate’s rank at the All India Pre-Medical Test. The prestigious Indian Institutes of Management conduct a Common Admission Test for their applicants, but continue to consider the more common GMAT scores for foreign and non-resident applicants. The renowned Indian Institutes of Technology conduct the notoriously competitive IIT-JEE and the prestigious BITS Pilani conducts an online admission test BITSAT which attracts candidates from as far away as Dubai.
Recently, separate exams have been introduced for courses such as law and hotel management. Some colleges such as AIIMS and AFMC and many private medical colleges conduct their own entrance tests. However the college admission procedure in India remains somewhat controversial due to the presence of reservation of seats for “backward” castes.
China has an entrance competitive examination in order to enter colleges or universities for undergraduate education. This exam is named gaokao in Chinese. Of 11,000,000 candidates, there was a failure rate of 25% in 2012.
France is the country that surely uses the most competitive examinations. Some education professionals tend to say that the “Concours Général” (not mandatory, as the Baccalauréat is) in the last year of High School (Lycée) is the most difficult to take worldwide with only 250 places in all subjects for 15,000 applicants (there is a failure rate of 98,3%). There are also an entrance competitive examination in order to enter medicine studies: (1 preparation year, 10 mandatory years after competitive exam, failure rate of 85%); “grandes écoles” of engineering (2 preparation years, 4 mandatory years after competitive exam, failure rate of approx. 50%), and “grandes écoles” of business (2 preparation years, 3 mandatory years after competitive exam, failure rate of approx. 25%). In France, the fact of having succeeded in one competitive exam is highly recognized by the society, and shows you are part of the national elite.
In Pakistan Entrance exam is taken annually for admission in Engineering and Medicine courses.Every province and federal capital conducts its own entrance exam rather than one sole state owned competitive exam.The appearance in exam is mandatory for every high school student to pursue his studies at university level in Public sector universities.
One-half of British universities have lost confidence in the grades that are awarded by secondary schools, and require many applicants to sit for a competitive entrance examination or other aptitude test. According to the Schools Minister, “strong evidence has been emerging of grade inflation across subjects” in recent years.
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