Reality Check India

Crazy normalization formula invented by experts baffles students

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on July 9, 2013

About a year back, I had posted this “HRD and IIT invent a horrendous new admissions formula” . I think it is now time to take the cake out of the oven.

An unfashionable protest

An unfashionable protest

Skewed normalization formula confuses students

After nearly a month of collating normalization of class XII marks and student’s score in JEE (Main) the final ranking for admission to prestigious National Institutes of Technology (NITs) is finally out. Expectedly, the skewed formula has created confusion among students.

Source TOI

I also received tweets and an email from an anguished student on Twitter with some standing on the matter.  He has been running after the mainstream media to cover this story, but it was like talking to a wall.  There are several lawsuits being filed as I write this post.

First, I am going to explain in simple text how this scheme works both at the JEE-Main level and at the JEE-Advanced level.  Once you understand this scheme you can appreciate the massive confusion it has caused at both levels.

JEE – Main Normalization Formula 60% JEE + 40% Board

The Congress led UPA-II Government, notably the former HRD Minister Mr Kapil Sibal disrupted the earlier clean exam by announcing a new system where somehow your Board performance would count for 40%. Lakhs of students appeared for the JEE exams early in 2013 not knowing exactly how this system would work.  After the JEE-Main exam results were announced,   a committee called the “JEE Interface Board” invented a formula that worked in the following way.

Final score used for rank list  = JEE-Main score x 60%  + “Magic Board Score” x 40%

The “Magic Board Score” is calculated as follows.

  • Considering only candidates from your Board – what was the JEE-Main score obtained at your board percentile ?
  • Considering all candidates – what was the JEE-Main score obtained at your board percentile.
  • The Magic Board score is the average of the above two.

As an example :

Say you scored 200 Marks in JEE-Main (98 percentile) and 80% in TN Board (75 percentile). You board mark is whatever the 75 percentile student scored in JEE-Main.

The basic idea is curve anchoring – but the whole concept is seriously flawed.

  • The curves of the board exam are ignored while arbitrarily mapping board percentiles obtained on one set of exams to the JEE-Main curve.
  • The curves depicting the performance of students from Board X on a standardized test (JEE-Main) can be dramatically different as it ignores ratios and participation. In simple terms, students from Board X may not participate in JEE-Main to the same extent as those from Board Y.

The result is this – for boards with active participation – a small slippage in the board exam massively drops the 40% component, sometimes pushing them down thousands of ranks.  So what was sold as a 40% component assumes total importance. Of course, where there are losers there are winners. A poor JEE-Main score but with a good board percentile will inflate your effective JEE-Main score. A good thread on Quora has some samples.

The formula defeats the very purpose of having a standardized exam like the JEE in the first place.  Direct evidence of the students performance in the JEE-Main is immorally overridden by extraneous factors. If a student got 247 Marks fair and square on a particular exam, you cant walk up to him and say “No no no – you have actually only scored 150”.    You can construct elaborate arguments in support of this, but those will not find the popular acceptance they need.  A better solution would have been some kind of automatic admission to the top 1% of each board and not mess with direct evidence.

I hope the court strikes down this arbitrary formula. A fair question is : What would be an acceptable formula given the diktat from the likes of Sibal and Tharoor ? I do not know the answer to this, except that the executive and college administrators must have fought back political sabotage of this kind tooth and nail. Now guess who is going to be hauled up.

JEE – Advanced Retroactive disqualification formula

This is orders of magnitude worse than the gooey stuff that the JEE-Main situation has turned out to be.  Picture this:

You organize Heats in order to narrow down the pool for a 100M race to fit on one track.  But you come up with a clever masala twist.  You allow everyone to run the final stage and withhold the earlier heats result.  After the final event,  you go back and tell the winner that he’s out because he didn’t win one of the previous heats.

This is exactly the situation faced by hapless students from AP who had to return back to Hyderabad dejected after having cleared the JEE-Advanced. Some of them even had Demand Drafts ready to get admission into the IITs.

After the online counselling, candidates those who were allotted seats had to go to IIT-Madras, the southern vice-chairman of JEE Advanced examination office, for registration but dozens of candidates from Andhra Pradesh were sent home on Sunday, denying them seats saying that they did not figure in top percentile.

Speaking to Express, I Sandeep, who has got 3,695th rank and seat was allotted in IIT-H, said that he was denied seat as he got only 481 marks in Intermediate second year against the top 20 percentile mark from state 487/530. But they have already drawn a demand draft for Rs 60,000 and reached IIT-Madras along with their parents to take admission where he was denied admission saying that he did not figure in the list of top 20 percentile of Intermediate Board marks.

Source : NIE

Appalling arrogance from  an IIT-Delhi official.  Of course, he is ignorant. A minimum cutoff (eg a Pass in the Board exam) is quite different from a rank based cutoff.  In the former only your performance matters, in the latter your rank matters.  In any case, the earlier retroactive scheme sounds illegal too to me on principle.

However, IIT-Delhi’s H C Gupta, who is overseeing JEE (Advanced) this year, disagrees. He says, “Cutoff of top 20 percentile would not affect more than 20 students across sixteen IITs. Even with 60% class XII eligibility criteria till last year few students could not get admission despite clearing JEE.”

Source : TOI

This is a highly arbitrary system that flies against the “legitimate expectations” of those who participated in the JEE-Advanced.  If you want to pre-qualify, by all means do so, but not in a post-hoc fashion.  By paying EXAM FEE,  busting their bottoms preparing and appearing for the exams, the expectation of all candidates is that they are eligible and are participating in a system without prejudice.  I cant think of a valid legal defence of this scheme that would stand in any society where the rule of law holds.


A fake socialist state built on adhocism, no political accountability,  and a relentless assault on individual rights is going to produce these spectacular anomalies. In the short term, we hope the judicial process provides relief to these innocent kids.


29 Responses

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  1. ujjwal said, on July 9, 2013 at 4:34 am

    join and share

    • vikas kumar saini said, on November 28, 2014 at 8:38 am

      I have 99.99 percentile in my 12 th board how many.marks i should get in jee main for 2000 rank

  2. Manish said, on July 9, 2013 at 9:29 am

    With this attitude and behavior of the powers to be, why are we surprised when majority of students who pass out from the IITs leave the country for greener pastures abroad. Any parent / student who has to go through this SKEWED process will certainly think of HOW HE / THEY can get OUT of the system since CHANGING the system seems a Herculean task.

  3. ganapathy said, on July 10, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    The anger against normalisation is surprising to say the least.There exists coaching factories in andhra pradesh and kota and andhra has taken a huge lead in this.
    The coaching factories in andhra run by chaitanya,narayana,gayathri,fiitjee catch people from 6th for IIT and most if not all in andhra who can afford fall for it,The intercolleges after 10th have following batches

    Costliest is Spark where they train the toppers for top ranks ,I-CON-pure concentration on IIT among the selected cream and nonperformers demoted to IPL(intermediate premier league) which concentrates on IIT and AIEEE and the school timings are from 0730AM to 0830 PM and exams on sundays for 2 years.
    The internal region wise reservation within andhra made andhra refuse central quota and hence andhra students where eligible for few central govt institutions apart from IITJEE.This started a craze for IIT and it has reached alarming proportions in andhra where students are forced to neglect the subjects which are part of the board and have no sports nor anyother extracurricular activities and most of the premier colleges are run in multistorey apartments with the lower 2 floors for girls and the floors above for boys.Fees of 25000 gets added for AC classrooms.
    This coaching factories started producing results alike kota and more than 30%students joining the IITs where from andhra
    No rightthinking individual or normal parent can remain silent on this illtreatment of students considering them as machines but unfortunately andhra has fallen for it wholeheartedly.The only silver lining which has happened to save the poor students is the importance given to board exams

    • rc said, on July 10, 2013 at 4:59 pm

      Here is the truth : You cannot create an exam that isn’t biased ….. towards those who prepare for it.

      Rest of your comment sounds like sour grapes. I am not an Andhra-ite but I will stand up against those who seek to demean the sheer grit and hard work these kids have put in. From town and from village.

      If you want to ban these institutes it must be by law.

      • poovannan said, on July 11, 2013 at 5:06 am

        The problem lies in taking entrance exam as the sole criteria and ignoring the marks scored in state boards for getting selected.
        Its the role of the state to devise means to get trainees who become soldiers or engineers or doctors from areas across the country and not from few metros and they design various procedures like district quotas,state quotas,quotas based on tribal/caste status etc

        Hard work and grit should result in coming in the top 20 of their respective state/groups and not crib on seeing the top 20 of other state or other social groups.Is it fair for a boxer from haryana to get annoyed on seeing a puducherry boxer representing his state and getting jobs on the basis of that when he who can beat him easily cannot qualify in his state where the competition is tough.

      • pp_chn (@pp_chn) said, on August 8, 2013 at 10:15 pm

        Its true that the kids are putting their all into the IIT preparation. But is it right for them to ignore the boards and concentrating only on getting through to IIT?

  4. ganapathy said, on July 10, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    The comparison with heats is smart but not correct.The aim of the governments is to select the best /toppers from all states and not from a single state.Its not national games if some MRF coaching factory in a particular state trains students in high jump/spin bowling/steeple chase treating them as machines and making them train for 20 hrs a day and they being made eligible to represent all states in a common heat making them represent all states as their representatives
    There existed state quotas in RECs(previous avatar of NIT)and no coaching factories before kota and andhra made IITs have sizeable representation from several states but coaching factories have altered the situation to alarming levels where a single intermediate college in hyderabad produces more successful candidates in IITJEE than some states.
    If you consider normalisation as indirect state quota and anticoaching factories one can appreciate the process

    • rc said, on July 10, 2013 at 5:05 pm

      Read the post again. The illegality (would really like to see someone rebut this) is the retroactive nature of the 20% cutoff. There the heat comparison is perfect.

      You cant take exam fees, make a kid prepare and go through the exam, have him ace it – then tell him you weren’t eligible in the first place.

      I really really cant see the Govt making a coherent argument on the 20% case. The Magic Formula depends on how much harm is actually done.

      • ganapathy said, on July 11, 2013 at 7:25 am

        comparing board exams to heats speaks of arrogance and not fair.lets take it as clay court and grass court or F1 racing in various terrains with varying or equal weightage for positions in those races.A better position in all races is defenitely superior to topper in one and botttom in another
        Exam fees can be waived of if that is considered as unfair and even in earlier models failure in board exam made a qualified candidate lose his seat inspite of getting a good rank in IITJEE.

  5. poovannan said, on July 11, 2013 at 9:25 am

    We have been attracted to IPL a lot and there is a significant number of people who beleive that IPL has increased the strength of Indian team and helps it in picking up talents.IPL has a restriction of maximum of 4 foreign players and suggestions to increase it to 5 or 6 by shane warne was angrily turned down by indian players who argued on how its INDIAN premier league and its main objective is to help discover indian talents and indian players.We had no issues and where very happy when yusuf pathan and manpreet gony got several times the payment of devilliers or michael clarke/michelle johnson.
    The club teams have specific areas of catching young talent and mukesh ambani inspite of enormous money cannot get local talent from a area outside his allotment
    The aim is the same over here and the govt wants the top from all states from manipur to puducherry and all social groups and not just from a single place or state.
    Hockey and football worldcups are classic is more better as there is no gross anamoly in the selection of teams for each continent but even in football is it fair for russia or denmark to crib that they are denied a seat while china or iran get a chance to be part of the final 32 teams.
    It will not be a world cup if we have 8 teams from brazil,10 from spain ,6 from germany and none from Asia inspite of the fact that the 10th placed team from spain will beat the asian team comfortably

  6. tejlohitreddy said, on July 11, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    entrance exams are conducted to select the best and not to give representation to all students from all states. What is wrong if someone takes coaching for IIT in andhra pradesh and gets a good rank. You have to make coaching less relevant by an innovative exam pattern but not make it unjust like this.
    and one of the reasons andhrapradesh produces so many iitians is not just because of coaching institutes but people are so inclined towards engineering and medicine that we only think of either one or the other and consider no other professions while making career choices.
    many civil servants come from states like bihar, up. but we dont cry like babies about it, because we understand that civil service is a primary career option for many youth in those states. we cant make upsc give reservations for states.
    what is needed is an innovative exam pattern which will make coaching institutes irrelevant and not this retarded system of normalisation

    • ganapathy said, on July 12, 2013 at 5:07 am

      The problem lies with the mindset of “entrance exams are conducted to select the best ” which is not true. We are not selecting the vice chancellors or HODs to cross barriers and are just selecting 17 year old trainees
      Lets consider a situation of SAI selecting 100 candidates for training them in archery/football/cricket by entrance and practical examination and the entire lot of seats are occupied by students who had the privilege of getting coaching in dola banerjee academy /bhutia academy and are from a single state.Is it correct or fair.Doesnt the sport authority of india have a duty to get /pick talent across India from jharkhand or manipur by devising various methods and not pick people from a single state/coaching academy because they fire 400 out of 500 courtesy their years of coaching unlike others who without coaching get 300

      • tejlohitreddy said, on July 12, 2013 at 11:11 am

        it is the truth. since we have a scarcity of higher educational institutions, the government conducts exams to select those who will be more appropriate than others. your rebuttal of selecting trainees would have been good if there are unlimited seats and there is no problem of shortage. as i have mentioned in the previous post, it is not just coaching institutes which make people from ap get into iits, it is the utterly biased inclination towards engineering course which makes them train themselves so hard at the cost of an holistic education(i am not saying its proper to do so and steps must be taken to end such practices) the rich in all states have access to good coaching institutes, if not in their own states they can always cross borders u know. its the poor who suffer the most. and the new system of taking the top 20 percentile is not helping them any. because the cutoffs are so high in our state that many guys who studied in govt colleges who cant afford the high fees of corporate colleges didnt qualify even if they have the desires and abilities. and again i am saying this, exam pattern has to be such that coaching institutes have to become irrelevant atleast partially. and you cannot include board marks which are not immune to coaching centres. take the example of indian cricket team, many cricketers come from mumbai team, thats might be due to many reasons, mumbaikars may be more inclined towards cricket than say jandk and we dont assemble the indian cricket team on the basis of who are doing the best in various states then indian team shall consist of 28 members and not 11.

  7. ganapathy said, on July 12, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    No one objects to andhra or chattisgarh getting the top 10 ranks or topping the IITs and becoming the best outgoing students/department toppers but there will be objections and methods devised to prevent andhra or haryana players playing for/representing all states as they fire more courtesy coaching and corner 900 out of 1000 seats

    The aim of IIT or NIT is to prepare engineers who after graduation will work in state/central govt/public sector/become entrepreneurs across the country and it helps if one gets people from all over the country.Replace IITJEE with medical entrance and you can understand the logic in my argument.Gujarat or chattisgarh needs doctors to be part of its government hospitals and want them to work in rural areas in the state but a common entrance which gets candidates mostly from andhra or delhi will be a disaster for the state health services as no andhraite will be willing to work in chattisgarh or manipur.

    I fully agree with your point on increasing the seats and there has been considerable increase in the number of seats in the last 5 years and just request you consider the merit in getting candidates from all the states and social groups and will, have no hesitation in supporting any other normalisation/regularisation/state quota scheme which helps in achieving that

    Its surprising to see RC a supporter of separate reservation of arundhatiyars getting angry with a scheme which helps SC/ST/OBC from all states/castes have a chance than the previous one where these seats where cornered by students from a single state

    • rc said, on July 13, 2013 at 3:35 am

      Sir you are not getting the central point. It is this point on which the petitioners should focus.

      If you want to balance inputs from different states – that has to be done explicitly by law. FOr example pass a quota bill through parliament. The reasoning now is that board exams have to be given weightage and the implementation has been delegated to CBSE. Now CBSE, cannot take this mandate, which is not balancing and convert it into a scheme that in effect turns out be balancing.

      Now about the desirability of state quotas – I am against that because while the border cases are clear enough. The policy will reward states like Tamlilnadu which have equal or better school access then AP but has a weak syllabus and liberal grading as a policy. That is not the kind of incentive you want.

      • ganapathy said, on July 15, 2013 at 9:56 am

        The criteria of top 20% and comparative performances of the top 20% makes weak syllabus and liberal grading a non issue as liberal grading makes even 95 fall outside top 20 while a tough grading state will have even 75 % in the top 20 and weak syllabus makes them perform very poorly in the entrance making it impossible for them to get even a few seats

    • tejlohitreddy said, on July 13, 2013 at 4:10 am

      if chattisgarh needs doctors it should develop more medical colleges in its state and place a mandatory rural service obligation and it shall not claim its quota in all the premier medical colleges in the country, take aiims and pgimer for example, there are no quotas even when some states are less represented. IITs are dedicated to the nation as a whole and if you want to train people from all states then why not allocate each state an IIT. Finally I do think coaching institutes have to be made irrelevant, but not through this way where genuine candidates are failing to even qualify. If you see the latest result, I dont think government has achieved much through this, see 1800 of 9000 candidates selected are still those who belong to AP board. so i almost didnt change anything substantially.

  8. ganapathy said, on July 15, 2013 at 9:46 am

    PGIMER is a post graduate institution offering around 100 seats and AIIMS with less than 100 seats had institute quota in PG of around 50 % for several years before it was disbanded.They are not a group of institutions offering 9000 seats and even in those institutions if its found that certain regions are totally unrepresented,ways have to be designed to get them join the institutions
    Armed forces run a medical college at AFMC Pune and ISRO a engg college in trivandrum with a binding clause of minimum compulsory period of work after completion of studies.One would not have had any objection with a single IIT having similar binding clauses and selecting candidates across India based on just entrance conducted by it without any plans for getting people from across the country.9000 engineering seats is a too larger pie to be allowed to be swallowed by a single or two states who have taken a lead in establishing institutions which coach and make students crack the entrance easily inspite of performing poorly in the board exams
    Andhra along with J&K where the only two states which refused to surrender 15%seats (initially which was later increased to 25% due to its telengana/rayalaseema divisions )to the central pool for selection on an all India basis through all India medical and engg entrances but surprisingly its andhra which is crying foul when schemes are designed to help students from all states have a fair chance in joining IITs by giving due considerations to their performance in board exams
    It will take a year or two for other states to realise their increase in chances due to normalisation and the days of single state domination will come to an end.

    • tejlohitreddy said, on July 18, 2013 at 7:34 pm

      9000 seats looks bigger only when compared to the 100 seats in aiims or pgimer, but if you look a little deeper, the 100 seats offered in those premier institutions are per 45000 total undergraduate seats in the entire country or even lesser post graduate seats. but as you can see the total number of engineering seats are enormous ( i think its in lakhs).and regarding the poor performance in board examinations, its only an exception and most of the guys who enter iits from ap do well in board examinations too. and as you mentioned andhra and j and k had special reasons for refusing to surrender 15 percent quotas and as a result they are not eligible for quotas in other states either. i dont think any number of years will decrease the percentage of students getting into iits from ap. dont you think 2000 people cant make into the top 20 percent of board marks. all the normalization does is hurt the chances of candidates who did their studies in government colleges since they find it difficult to make it into the top 20 pc

      • ganapathy said, on July 19, 2013 at 5:15 am

        I can say with surety that 1890 out of 1900 students who have got into IITs from AP are from coaching academies and students from govt schools getting into IIT from AP is almost nil except for very few tribal candidates.What is wrong in having a criteria to be in the top 20 % of both exams.
        9000 seats in govt colleges is a huge number and no state have that number of seats in govt engg institutions across the country except TN and few others.

      • tejlohitreddy said, on July 19, 2013 at 5:25 am

        and i am double sure that 8800 out of 9000 candidates who got selected to iits took some form of coaching if not in andhra, may be kota, may be in bihar’s super 30, or may be in delhi/

  9. desicontrarian said, on July 23, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Dear Reality Check,

    What is your assessment of this statistically skewed ICSE fraud exposè?

  10. […] from different regions or states or  universities  or  colleges.”  It turns out this is a very hard problem as the CBSE who designed the JEE-Main are finding out.  As more and more complex formulae are used the system loses respect and transparency among the […]

  11. shaillendar said, on December 1, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    guys but i came to know that a guy got 165 in jee main and 98.33 percent in tn board got a rank of air 30000
    but a girl who got 150 in jee main and she got 97 percent in haryana board andshe got around 5000 ranks
    how did this massive difference come plz give answer o this query

    • rc said, on December 1, 2013 at 2:32 pm

      Sorry to say this but this is an outcome of the crazy formula.

      TN Board is easy so the 98.3% scored by the guy isn’t outstanding. They then take that percentile and map it to the JEE Mains curve, which results in a plummeting rank.

      Please blame the Congress led UPA government at the centre for foisting such an silly scheme upon us. What happened to the court cases ?

  12. PRATISH SHARMA said, on December 18, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    dear sir,
    I got 82.8% in CBSE board in 2013 what would be my expected rank in mains 2014 if i scored about 300 in mains 2014..??

  13. nishanand said, on February 20, 2015 at 11:49 am

    sir i score 75% in bihar board nd my percentile is 99.76 then plj o inform me how much marks is required for nit warangle

  14. […] exam normalized across various boards. JEE main itself is problematic (I have documented it here and I believe a case is still pending in the Supreme Court). The JEE-Main is however not the point […]

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