Last year, when the largest Indian entrance exam for aspiring engineers opened up to technology, there were precisely 4,900 candidates who opted for it. The remaining 11.13 lakh took the All India Engineering Entrance Exam (AIEEE) in the old paper-pencil mode.
But the tepid response has done little to force the exam organizer to rethink its plans. The Central Board for Secondary Education, which conducts the AIEEE, has now put out a note stating that the 11th edition of the entrance test—to be held in April 2012— will be held in the "online mode on a mass scale".
The notification states, "Students are advised to acquaint themselves (with new technology)." CBSE chairman Vineet Joshi clarified that like last year, the exam would be offered in the paper-pencil format, too, but there were certain changes that the board was working on. A committee is drawing up plans on how to make the computer-based format of the test more popular among candidates when the next edition of the exam rolls out. "To offer the exam on computers in certain large cities, where the student population is comfortable with technology, is one suggestion," said Joshi.
Last year, when the CBSE had put in place infrastructure for 1 lakh students to take the computer-based test, less than 0.5% signed up for the online entrance test. While the board felt the computer-based test was the way forward to handle the ballooning aspirants, the number of those who have opted for the new computer-based format was a wake-up call for the board. "We realized it was going to take longer than we thought before we can offer the exam just on computers. Hence, we are reworking our strategy," said a senior CBSE official.
But officials clarified that with the AIEEE having a large contingent of candidates from rural India, it would take the CBSE at least a decade before the entrance exam could be held completely on computers. The CBSE, which conducts the AIEEE, has put out a note stating that the next edition of the test will be held in the 'online mode on a mass scale'.