Why is the difficulty level of JEE Advanced so high, according to IIT?

Why is the difficulty level of JEE Advanced so high, according to IIT?
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Why is the difficulty level of JEE Advanced so high, according to IIT?

The nation’s top engineering schools are the IITs. Each year, more over 10 lakh applicants compete for the roughly ten thousand seats available in the IITs’ undergraduate programs. JEE Main and JEE Advanced are the two exams required for admission.

JEE Main is used to select candidates for JEE Advanced as well as for admission to other engineering institutes. The JEE Advanced rank is used to decide admission to various engineering disciplines at IITs.

JEE Advanced, widely regarded as one of the most difficult exams in the world, is given to approximately 2 lakh students each year, with approximately ten thousand (the top 5%) being selected for admission.

JEE Advanced is sometimes criticised for being overly demanding, even when compared to JEE Main. For instance, in 2021, the final IIT admissions candidate, who had a test score of roughly 12,000, received only 30% of the possible points.

Furthermore, more than 50% of the pupils received less than 10% of the possible points. Many pupils wonder why the test hasn’t been made any simpler for them.

Is it because people who set the exams are unable to create questions that are simpler? Or perhaps it’s because they get some sort of kick out of seeing a lot of pupils perform poorly? None of the aforementioned is true, thus. The examination must be challenging because it must identify and rank the top 5% of pupils, as I will explain below.

Let’s start by thinking about a hypothetical scenario. Consider having to administer a test to two lakh pupils in order to assess their level of knowledge and comprehension. The skills of students will typically follow a bell-shaped curve in a big collection like this, with huge numbers in the centre (representing in-between abilities) and numbers dropping off as the abilities get higher or lower than average.

This is known as the “Normal Distribution” in statistics. A test with an average score of 50 (out of 100) would be perfect for determining the level of students, with 0 representing extremely low level, 50 representing average level, and 100 representing very high level.

However, JEE Advanced has a different objective: to find the top 5% of students from the provided group of 2 lakh students (that have appeared qualified JEE Main).

If the above exam were administered during JEE Advanced, every student in the top 5% would receive more than 80 marks (under certain reasonable assumptions about standard deviation of the curve).

This makes it challenging to rate them because each of the 10,000 students is confined to a band of 20 marks (there will be 500 students on average on each mark in the band).

Even if one employs tie-breaking criteria that considers marks from several disciplines, a lot of students will still be grouped together based on the same marks.

Since all of the qualifying pupils fall within the range of 90 to 100, the range of marks 0-80 is squandered. The top ten thousand students should ideally receive the whole range of grades (0–100), which is possible when all students receive zero marks.

Of course, in reality, this is not feasible. However, a test with enough difficulty approaches the ideal by raising the the group of the top 5% of students. And for this reason, the JEE Advanced is extremely challenging because its high difficulty greatly widens the top 5% band (30-100 in the year 2021).

In actuality, the JEE Main exam adheres to the same philosophy. The top 5% of JEE Main students in 2021 were in the 30-100 range, which is nearly identical to JEE Advanced.

To find the top 5% of students (about 50,000) out of 10 lakh applicants for admission to various engineering colleges across the nation, it is done for the same purpose.

The question therefore becomes: Why is JEE Advanced harder than JEE Main? The top 5% of the set of individuals shortlisted through JEE Main, or the top 1% of applicants who took JEE Main, must be identified for JEE Advanced for this reason. Therefore, a wide band is required for the top 1% of this set, making the JEE Advanced harder than the JEE Main.


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