With close to 9 lakh students attempting the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) to secure a spot in the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) this year alone, the term ‘competitive entrance test’ seems like an extreme understatement. 

A career in Engineering continues to appeal to a majority of the Indian population; and the IITs hold their stellar gold-standard reputation in this scientific discipline. Coaching institutes generally begin training students from as early as the age of 14, moulding them to successfully crack the exam a couple of years later. 

Exactly HOW difficult is this examination? Let’s see what a couple of University Professors from Australia have to say. 

Following an exam unboxing video, done over nine months ago, that barely scratched the surface on how challenging the IIT-JEE exam is, Australian YouTuber Toby (who goes by the handle Tibees) decided to revisit the World’s Toughest Exam with a follow-up video. The multiple-choice question papers are handed over to six Professors currently teaching at the University of Melbourne and their reaction is definitely worth watching. 

The video kicks off with the first impressions of these professors opening up the test booklet- the first reaction is one of a startled Dr James Hutchison who believes that the paper looks intimidating and require an understanding of concepts taught in advanced stages at the university level. 

Evaluation of the candidate’s aptitude for Physics, Chemistry and Math all at once may pose challenges and this thought is put down eloquently by Prof Barry Hughes. He also goes on to state that getting a decent result in an hour might be challenging even for him as his method as a Mathematician works a little differently than just arriving at the answer, he believes the story is key to answering a problem. Prof Hughes is quoted saying, “The ability to reason and explain your reasoning is what matters in any scientific discipline”. 

Prof Udaya Parampalli, a professor of Indian origin, himself being a research scholar from IIT Kanpur, opens the booklet with a small smile and states that he probably cannot answer the Physics questions now, though he’d be able to three decades ago. 

All the professors seem to agree on the opinion that a lot of the principles that go into successfully solving the paper is based on memorisation which may not be a reliable tool of a student’s aptitude. 

Dr Jasmina Lazendic-Galloway is of the opinion that the drill type of questions usually require students to prepare a lot before so that they get enough practice, which is in consensus with the prevalence of young 13-year old Indian students being pushed for coaching! With the larger pool of candidates competing for a small number of seats, the JEE appears to be more of a test of whether a candidate is serious enough to practice and perform in a timed test as opposed to an indicator of if they can do well in the next step of their education. Only a student who memorises concepts over a period of time is then trained to tread the fine balance of being able to race against the clock and apply their understanding of a subject would be able to perform well on the JEE. 

To further put things in clarity, Tibees has also spoken to two Indian students who cleared the exam themselves. Shreshth Tuli and Nipam Basumatary persuade aspirants to approach the exams with a curious mind. They indicate how something as little as 2 marks can push your rank by 200 spots! Adopt an open-mind and start preparing early, while not losing focus on enjoying life experiences apart from studying. In tune with the increasingly infinitesimal odds of successfully acing the examination, the number of candidates attempting the test have declined considerably over the last 5 years. The 4-year long preparation (sometimes more) and the effort that students put into getting into IIT should not be overlooked. This video offered a unique insight into Australian professors’ opinions on the assessment methods of the JEE examination.