Covid-19 outbreak disrupting Board exams across the country, the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are considering dropping the Class 12 performance criterion for admissions this year.

Usually, a general category rank holder in JEE (Advanced) should have either scored at least 75 per cent or figure in the top 20 percentile of her Board results to secure a seat at an IIT. SC/ ST candidates should have either scored at least 65 per cent or fulfil the top 20 percentile requirement.

Last month, key school Boards, including CBSE and CISCE, cancelled their remaining Class 10 and Class 12 exams amidst growing concerns over student safety as many states continue to report a record surge in COVID19 positive cases on most days.

The Boards subsequently announced alternative evaluation methods for the remaining exams. For instance, CBSE’s special marking scheme involves awarding the average marks of the best-performing subjects to the scrapped examination.

The disruption of Class 12 examinations was discussed at a meeting of the Joint Implementation Committee (JIC) earlier this month. The JIC is made up of JEE chairpersons of all IITs.

During the meeting, the JEE chairpersons proposed that the Class 12 criterion should be waived for 2020 given that different Boards have responded differently to the Covid outbreak. “There was a consensus that the IITs, instead, should insist on rank holders to have passed their Board exams this year,” said a JIC member who did not wish to be identified. “This would be a one-time exception,” the member said.

The Class 12 performance criterion isn’t a make-or-break criterion for admissions even in an average year. “There are very few rank holders who are denied admission every year for either not scoring a minimum of 75 per cent marks or meeting the top 20 percentile cut-off. So, doing away (with this criterion) for one admission cycle isn’t going to make a big difference,” the member said.

The JIC proposal will only be implemented once it has the Joint Admission Board’s (JAB) approval. JAB has directors of all IITs and representatives of the HRD Ministry as its members. A meeting of JAB has not been called yet.

Apart from the Class 12 criterion, the IITs are also looking at the feasibility of conducting JEE (Advanced) for international students at Dhaka, Dubai, Kathmandu and Singapore. The IITs are apprehensive of arranging the exam at foreign locations as different Covid-related restrictions are in place in different countries.

JEE (Advanced) will be held on September 27. This is the second time the examination has been rescheduled due to the pandemic’s outbreak.

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