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A Deep Dive into India’s Competitive Exam

Indian Competitive Exams

India is the hub of competitive examinations. Every year many competitive exams are conducted to test the eligibility of the candidates and a huge number of aspirants appear for the same. Roughly more than 30 competitive exams are conducted in India. However, the most talked-about and considered to be the toughest ones are UPSC, JEE and NEET UG. These three consist of the highest number of aspirants as compared to any other competitive exams conducted in India.

So, we will get into the details of these three examinations.

UPSC (Union Public Service Commission or The Civil Services Exam)

It is a national-level competitive examination in India conducted by the Union Public Service Commission for recruitment to higher Civil Services of the Government of India, which also includes the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service, and Indian Police Service. This exam is conducted in three phases: a preliminary examination comprising of two objective-type papers (General Studies Paper I and General Studies Paper-II, popularly known as Civil Service Aptitude Test or CSAT), and the main examination which includes nine papers of formal (essay) type, in which two papers are qualifying, which is further followed by a personality test (interview). A candidate sits for 32 hours of examination during the entire process stretching approximately one year.

JEE (Joint Entrance Examination)

JEE is an engineering entrance examination conducted for entry to several engineering colleges and universities in India. It is composed of two different assessments: the JEE Main and the JEE Advanced.

The Joint Seat Allocation Authority (JoSAA) administers the joint admission operation for an aggregate of 23 Indian Institute of Technology campuses, 31 National Institute of Technology campuses, 25 Indian Institute of Information Technology campuses and 19 additional Government Funded Technical Institutes (GFTIs) based on the rank secured by a student in JEE Main and JEE Advanced.

  • JEE Main- It is conducted by National Testing Agency (NTA). JEE Main includes two papers, Paper-I and Paper-II. Applicants may choose either or both of them. Both papers incorporate multiple-choice questions. Paper-I is for admission to B.E./B.Tech courses and is supervised in a Computer Based Test mode. Paper-II is for admission in B.Arch and B.Planning courses, also conducted in Computer Based Test mode excluding for one paper, i.e. the ‘Drawing Test’ which is conducted in Pen and Paper mode or better say offline mode.

  • JEE Advanced- Candidates who qualify for the JEE-Main exam become eligible for the JEE-Advanced examination. JEE Advanced is conducted for admission into 23 IITs and some other eminent universities like IISC Bangalore, IIST Thiruvananthapuram, Indian Institute of Petroleum and Energy (IIPE), Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISERs), Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology (RGIPT). It is administered or conducted by any one of the IITs every year.

NEET-UG (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test- Undergraduate)

It is a nationwide pre-medical entrance examination for candidates who aspire to seek undergraduate medical (MBBS), dental (BDS) and AYUSH (BAMS, BUMS, BHMS, etc.) courses in government and private institutions or universities in India and for those willing to pursue medical qualification abroad. This exam is conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA), which submits the results to the Directorate General of Health Services under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and State Counselling Authorities for seat allotment. NEET-UG is a single entrance examination for acceptance to more than 66,000 MBBS and BDS seats across India.

Pros of these competitive examinations

  • Competitive exams are not based on rote learning; rather, it requires an in-depth understanding of the concepts which improves your IQ, rational and logical thought process.
  • Since these exams have time constraints, it teaches you how to work efficiently in less time which further helps you to have good control over your time and be better at time management.
  • It prepares you for tough battles in life. Being a part of such fierce competition teaches you how to handle pressure at a very young age. Knowing the fact that your chances of selection is only 1% and still sitting for these entrances is itself commendable. The amount of dedication and hard work students put into this prepares them for further bigger challenges. And as Jeetu bhaiya from Kota factory says,                          “IIT isliye karo kyuki tough hai aur tough battles ladne mein confidence aata hai life mein.”

Cons of these competitive examinations

  • Too much pressure takes a toll over aspirants’ mental health. And the fact that these big institutes play a key role in putting up so much pressure. Students are told that this is the only way to success, however, they fail to tell them that there is a world beyond these entrances and this is not the end. There is a very toxic culture in these institutions. 
  • The quota system and less number of seats has always been a very major drawback of competitive exams in India. This system proves to be unfair for many deserving students. Imagine you score 600+ marks in NEET-UG and hope to get into one of the top colleges but you belong to the general category and because of the skyrocketing cut-off you don’t get into it. On the other hand, somebody with a 200 score gets into the same college where you couldn’t just because that person belongs to SC or ST category. Very unfair ! No? Apart from this, the number of seats is inversely proportional to the number of aspirants appearing for the examination. Not only this, a huge fee difference between private and government colleges specifically in the case of medical colleges also pushes students to take a step back from their aspirations.
  • The immense mental pressure, fear of shattering dreams, toxic coaching culture ultimately snowballs into student suicides. There has been an increase of 27% in suicide cases in the last 5-6 years. Not being able to crack these exams even after putting so many years and efforts into affects students’ self-esteem, self-confidence, develops a feeling of worthlessness and further severely affects their mental health. It takes years to come out of that. 

“Iss kacchi umar mein agar kisi cheez ko itni dil se chaaho na toh do hi cheezein hoti hain, agar mil gayi toh sukoon hai, chill hai, aur nahi mila naa toh milti hai jealousy, chubhan, self-doubt. Bhai Sahab confidence gir jata hai. Phir jitna duniya loser nahi samajhti utna aadmi khud ko loser samajhne lagta hai.”

 ~Jeetu Bhaiya, Kota factory.

Well! These exams take years of preparation and are regarded as a mental battle for the aspirants. Competitive exams like these demand next-level dedication, hard work and consistency. India is well known for having fierce cut-throat competition. The competition is getting tougher each year and it will only get tougher and tougher unless the higher authorities look into the matter like increasing the number of seats, scrapping the quota system. Nonetheless, students should also know that these exams don’t label them as losers. It is a learning process and everybody fails, you are a learner, not a loser. Cracking competitive exams is great but not being able to do the same is not the end. 

Will yet again quote a beautiful dialogue by Jeetu Bhaiya from Kota factory here, 

War mein soldiers ladte hain, ek side jeetti hai, ek side harti hai, par war mein haarne wale Warriors kehlate hain, Loosers nahi.” 

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