New Delhi: The alarm for class 12 board exams, which lived rent-free in the minds of students, has now been replaced by the rush to enroll in expensive crash courses to prepare for common university entrance exams (CUET).
Introduced in 2021, the CUET is a one-stop entrance exam for admission to undergraduate programs offered at any of the 45 Central Universities funded by the University Grants Commission across the country.
Amitendra Kumar, product manager of CUET at Career Launcher, says the nationwide chain of coaching institutions receives at least 200 calls a day regarding CUET courses. “A few thousand” students have already signed up for the accelerated courses which cost between Rs 35,000 and Rs 70,000, he adds.
“I get requests from parents to remove their wards from school. They say that since Class 12 grades will only hold 40% weight, they want to enroll their students in open schools and have them focus on CUET coaching instead,” said Sudha Acharya, President of the National Progressive School Conference (NPSC), an association of 122 schools in Delhi.
Public school students, on the other hand, worry that the inability to pay for CUET’s accelerated tuition could affect their chances of gaining admission to a good central university for their undergraduate course.
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Coaching Centers launched accelerated courses for students appearing for CUET this year days after UGC announced in March changes to the admissions process for undergraduate courses at Central Universities.
At Career Launcher, there are three types of CUET crash courses: online, offline, and pre-recorded video lectures. Although these courses cover 14 subject areas ranging from science, humanities and commerce, students can also opt for a “custom package” with subjects of their choice.
“We have started crash courses for students appearing this year, a one-year course for students appearing in 2023, and another batch for students appearing in 2024,” said Amitendra Kumar, Product Manager of CUET at Career. Launcher at ThePrint.
Aakash, the nationwide channel that offers coaching courses for NEETJEE aspirants, now offers a 24-day crash course for CUET covering science only. “Our test series courses will start from June 6 and students will take 14 tests. It can be used online and offline,” said Anurag Tiwari, National Academic Director (Medical) at Aakash+BYJU’S.
So far, 100 students have registered for CUET courses at Aakash, which cost Rs 20,000-30,000. More registrations are expected once the Class 12 exams are completed.
Even Ramanujan College, affiliated with Delhi University, has launched a crash course CUET, charging Rs 12,000 per student. A decision he later withdrew.
“We had to cancel the coaching session because several professors from other colleges raised objections. However, we had the best intentions at heart and wanted to provide students with training at affordable prices, compared to private coaching centers,” said SP Aggarwal, Principal of Ramanujan College.
“Conceptual learning no longer focuses”
But the proliferation of CUET crash courses is a worrying trend, says Sudha Acharya.
“Students are no longer working hard for their Semester 2 exams, because they have already done well in Semester 1, and their overall percentages will be good anyway. Since CUET is based on MCQ, skills such as conceptual learning, presentation skills, and creative expression for students will no longer be the focus,” she told ThePrint.
For public school students, the stiff competition for college places only intensified with the introduction of CUET.
A public school pupil, who did not wish to be identified, said he fears that even if he prepares from his textbook, he will not have an advantage over his more privileged contemporaries .
“I’ll do my best to find free material for reading and practice, but how can I compete with their hours of hands-on paper-solving skills? Isn’t it obvious they’ll score better than me? How is this new system a level playing field?” he asked.
“Until last year my daughter thought DU was out of reach because of the high thresholds and now it will be because I don’t have enough money to put her in a coaching class,” said Neetu Devi (40), the mother of a class 11 student.
The National Testing Agency (NTA), which will run CUET, said the questions for the entrance exam will come from the Class 12 NCERT textbooks.
The CUET document will be divided into three parts.
The first section will be a language test, for which students will have the option to choose one of 13 languages – Assamese, Bengali, English, etc. Questions will be based on reading comprehension, verbal ability, and grammar, among others.
For the second section, students will be required to answer questions on one to four subject-specific topics, such as bookkeeping, accountancy, history, economics, or geography.
The third part will have two subsections, the first involving a general test for professional and open eligibility programs, where students will be tested on their general knowledge, current affairs knowledge, general mental abilities and logical reasoning and analytical. The second sub-part will be an additional language test, for which the students will be tested on their knowledge of one of the 13 languages.
(Editing by Amrtansh Arora)
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