BJB/Ravenshaw Junior Colleges and their performance in IIT entrance exams: how to change it (Chitta1)

August 12th, 2007

BJB Junior College is the premier junior college of Orissa. Earlier we listed its arts and science merit lists. In the science merit list there are about 418 students who have secured more than 90% in their class X exam.  Although I have not seen Ravenshaw Junior College’s list, my guess is the situation will be almost similar (may be a little bit less) percentage wise. BJB Junior College currently has 512 seats in plus two science and Ravenshaw (after the recent seat increase) has 384 seats.

I am an alumnus of BJB (when it had 384 seats) and have close friends from Ravenshaw. Based on my experience in BJB, and my subsequent experience in IIT Kharagpur Computer Sc and University of Maryland (where I had JEE number 1 of a year in one of my classes)  I can say that at least 200 of BJB Jr plus two science students and 150 of Ravenshaw Jr plus two science students have the ability to make it to an IIT and do well in them.

Yet, as I am told, these days annually only about 10-12 fresh plus two pass outs from BJB Jr make it to IITs and may be another 10-12 older pass outs also make it. The result for Ravenshaw Jr is similar. Considering the quality of students that get into BJB Jr and Ravenshaw Jr, this result is dismal and is a shame.

One should just compare how similar colleges from others states do. Many of them send more than 100 students to IITs. An example is Little Flower Junior College of Hyderabad. (It was true in my time and as Partyusa confirms, it was true in his time too.)

Now, it is not the case that Orissa students (as aptly represented by BJB and Ravenshaw) are inferior than students from other states. They are as good, and often they do better (than what their incoming ranks would suggest) once they get in to a national institute.

So why is it that their result in the IIT entrance exam is so dismal!

From my analysis, experience and talking to other friends following are some of my thoughts on this.

1. Lack of Confidence; not believing in oneself: Many students hear about the performance of the previous year and when they find out that only 10-12 from their college made it to IITs, they figure that they won’t be among the top 10-12 in their batch and hence give up before starting. Many others start preparing for IIT but because of lack of confidence, give up mid way.

2. Negative advice: I have heard that certain teachers/seniors/parents/guardians give negative advice. They say that IIT is too hard and if one focuses so much on the IIT preparation then he/she may do badly in other exams and as a result, neither will he/she get IIT, nor will he/she get into the easier options through AIEEE and Orissa JEE.

3. Over dependence on low quality tuitions: Many students take multiple tutions and coaching classes that leaves them little time to study on their own. They depend on their tuition master’s notes rather than reading the books themselves.

4. Satisfied with easier alternatives: Some students set a lower goal for themselves. They notice that graduates from various private colleges in and around Bhubaneswar get well-paying jobs in recognized companies and decide why work hard to prepare for IIT.

Some basic advice to plus 2 students regarding getting into IITs

1. Confidence issues and countering the negative advice: The students who get into BJB jr and Ravenshaw jr colleges with more than or close to 90% marks in their Class X need not doubt their abilities. They will be successful in no matter what they do, provided they put their mind to it. Now, not every one needs to aim or go to IITs. But whatever field they decide for their career they should aim for the best college/institute in that field. So if Engineering is their choice then IITs and BITS should be in the top of their list and if science and maths is their interest then they should aim for NISER and IISERs. If one prepares for these entrance exams in a proper way then even if they are not successful for IIT/BITS/NISER/IISER they will do well in AIEEE, Orissa JEE and Plus 2 examination. The students that get into BJB jr and Ravenshaw jr are among the top 1000 students of Orissa. So there is no reason they should not get within the top 1000 of Orissa JEE and get into a very good local engineering college. With that excellent fall back option, BJB jr and Ravenshaw jr plus two science students interested in engineering should prepare for IIT with their full heart, and without any fear, but in a proper way.

2. A proper way for preparing for IIT and other entrance exams:  First, only reading notes dictated by ones tuition master is the worst way for preparing for entrance exams. When a tuition master dictates notes, at best what it implies is that he/she has read the material from one or more places, hopefully understood it, and has made a summary of it. When someone else (a student taking tuition) just reads those notes he/she does not develop the same level of understanding as he/she would have developed if he/she had read the original material in the books himself/herself.  Similarly, by only reading examples of solved problems (or listening to a tuition master explaining a solved problem) one does not develop the skill to solve problems. Unfortunately, many plus two students take multiple tuitions where their tuition masters dictate notes, and go through solved examples; they do not have time or energy left to read the text book and develop their own understanding and solve problems on their own to develop the problem solving skill. Now that we have discussed what is the wrong way; let us discuss the right or proper way.

* One must read one of the text books and develop their own understanding of a topic. It is ok to ask a teacher, including a tuition master, to clarify certain aspects that the student could not understand on his/her own. One may (does not have to) make their own notes based on their reading and understanding for quick revisions of the material later.

* For each topic, one must solve many problems on their own. Some of the problems may not be solvable in one sitting. Sometimes one may have to think about the problem, and may be go to sleep; may be in their subconscious they will get some insight of how to solve the problems. In other words, for any topic, pick one source (say X)  that has a few solved problems and several  problems to be solved (but with final answers). One should then read the material in the book, then read the material in X, then read the solved examples in X, and then solve the exercise problems in X on their own.  They should not look at another source Y which may have solved some of the exercise problems in X. One needs to do their best, and if necessary spend 2-3 days thinking about the exercise problems in X that they could not immediately solve. Only after one does this kind of routine with respect to a topic and a source X, and has time, one may take a stab at another source Y.  After working with source X, when working with source Y, one should try to not read all the solved examples of Y, but read a few of them and do the solved example problems (without looking at the solution) as well as the exercise problems on their own. However, in general, most students won’t have time to work with more than one source.

* In summary, one must read a book to understand the material (and make their own notes if they desire so) and pick one source (may be the study material of a postal coaching class, or a preparing for IIT book, etc.), and solve all its exercise problem on their own.

Now how does the above fit in with classes at your Junior College and the tuition that many student seem to be taking. I worry that there is not enough hours in a day for most people to take multiple tuitions,  attend classes at BJB/Ravenshaw and then prepare in a proper way as I suggest above. So one has to make decisions.

I personally attended my classes at BJB, and prepared in the above way with my source being study material of a postal coaching class. I never took tuition in my life, and never attended a face-to-face coaching class.


Many coaching classes do simulated tests. Taking simulated tests are useful, but only if you have prepared in the proper way described above. Otherwise, they are not much useful as you would not have developed the understanding and problem solving skills necessary to answer hard question in an exam.

This is all for now. In my next write up I will discuss some studying as well as test taking strategies. But let me sum up the main thoughts in the above write up.

  • Most students in BJB and Ravenshaw junior colleges are good enough to get into IIT as well as succeed in it. All they need is to believe in themselves, ignore negative advices and prepare in a proper way.
  • Proper preparation means reading the text book (not notes dictated by someone) to develop understanding of topics and solving problems (not reading solved examples) on your own to hone your problem solving skills.


Entry Filed under: Bhubaneswar-Cuttack-Puri- Khurda area (1),BJB Junior College,Colleges,Ravenshaw Junior College

4 Writeup

  • 1. Piyush Patnaik  |  August 13th, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    As rightly pointed out by you, the main reason for the dismal performance in IIT is the negative attitude of the students,parents and teachers.

    Another reason why our boys fail is that they try to solve problems same of difficulty level from many books and thereby wasting valuable time.They should pick and choose problems which are of different level of difficulty.

    Secondly the +2 question pattern should be changed to include numericals and short and objective type questions.Long questions which encourage cramming should be abolished. This would also reduce the over dependence of tuitions as the tuition masters are making a killing by dictating notes (which are nothing more than answers to long questions in each chapter).

  • 2. Debu  |  August 14th, 2007 at 7:37 am

    I dont understand why the +2 pattern has to be changed !! +2 exam is not for IIT or for any other entrance exam. The exam is for everybody and not for IIT applicant only. Why it has to be over taxed for general student ?

  • 3. Piyush Patnaik  |  August 14th, 2007 at 11:25 am

    The +2 exam pattern in orissa very outdated when compared with CBSE and ISC. One gan get good marks just by cramming the questions of last 5 years.If short answer type and objective questions are set students will be forced to understand the concept which will help then in cracking IIT/AIEEE/ JEE etc.Moreover, if you analyze the results of CBSE / ICSE you can clearly see that the students score heavily when comapared to orissa +2 exam. The students of those boards are less worried about the board exams than a Orissa +2 student.Therefore, I believe changing the pattern of exam would lessen the burden of the students but enhance their understanding. A whopping 62% of IIT qualifiers are from CBSE and ICSE which means that there is some merit in their system.

  • 4. Debu  |  August 14th, 2007 at 3:51 pm

    You said ” The students of those boards are less worried about the board exams than a Orissa +2 student”

    If we mask our +2 course by CBSE /ICSE course then students will not be worried for passing the exam and you claim this is a good sign.

    Understanding a subject is something different and it needs dedication and passion to wards that subject. If some one is interested for IIT or any other exam then let him do the extra exercise and why to change the whole +2 course for everybody !! Many people are there who does not want to be engineering / medical student and why to tax them ?

    There are institutes where they do spoon feeding for IITs and this gives an impression to me that a outlook / training is much more important to crack this high level exam. Finding a proper way for preparation is much more important. No IITians fully depends upon the CBSE / ICSE course and they do much more !!


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