The Great Indian Entrance Exam


This article has been submitted by Raveena Sethia for the CLATGyan Blog Post Writing Competition. If you think this article is a good read, ‘Like’ this article on Facebook (the button is at the bottom of this piece) or post a comment using the ‘comments’ section below.

“How was it?”

These are the sometimes concerned, sometimes cheeky, sometimes just plain nasty contents of an SMS you receive just after the Entrance Exam. Anyone who has given an Entrance will know what I’m talking about.

In India, entrances are mainly for Engineering( the most favourite for Bengalis and South Indians as they may not all have the brawns, but most certainly have the brains.), Medical( a rather brave selection made due to fascination for life, preferably that of homo-sapiens) and Law( an increasingly popular choice to fight your heart out).

So, who selects which road you’re taking to doom? Is it you( kudos for that), your parents( fair enough), an aunt/uncle successful in that field( this is the most common) or the local Chai wallah( Seriously?!). Okay so the decision has been taken after consulting all of the extended family(Even the year old fifth cousin nodded in favour) and assuming that you’re the best in the country and you’ll easily get into the best college.

Now what? You suddenly jump to reach for the nearest electronic device that can access the Internet. Google, the saviour of the 21st century acts like your ‘knight in shining armour’ and you see within seconds India’s Best Engineering/Medical/Law Colleges. After going through the details you check out the pictures of the various campuses. Suddenly, you see a vision of yourself entering those iron gates, the guard standing up and saying ‘”salaam” to you. There’s another of you with some friends near the fountain and a third to conclude the kind of fun you’re going to have( this vision may be of you sneaking out at odd hours…Depending on your definition of ‘fun’).

You get enrolled into the best coaching centre in town while your Dad/Mom reluctantly hands over the fees to the co-ordinator who smiles(imagine eyes glistening with ‘$” symbols, like in cartoons/comics) hoping for a promotion. On the first day you can’t believe that so many people showed up for class. Your confidence, that was as firm as the Earth till this very moment, threatens it’s foundation just like an earthquake. As you speak to people you reckon whether they may make it or not. Hours pass, days and months. Tests are held duly and you come unprepared for most. Excuses: late nigh party, went out of town, school assignment and some still used the rather outdated illness excuse. After bunking more classes than you attended, celebrating birthdays, taking up fights with teachers, you realize that the exam’s just round the corner and you know only 10% more than you did before you joined.

It’s at this stage that papers of different institutes are exchanged served with tensed conversations on What’s App and BBM( Facebook isn’t meant for such tension!). Within a few days the dreaded Mock Tests begin. These are so-called simulations of the ‘Real Thing’. After each mock, the Merit Lists or rather,’I’m Better Than You’ lists are out. The top ten generally remain the same throughout the period. If you could just kill the topper by giving him/her a dose of Cyanide( when will the Agatha Christie novels help?)…

So, the exam arrives. It’s the date you’ve marked a couple of times on your calendar or set a reminder for on your phone. You pray to all the Divine Powers and promise to better your ‘Karma’ in the future. The venue’s an ancient school. You were expecting an AC(sigh). ‘What’s wrong with you?’, shout others.

This is the first time you’ve seen so many people( we’re talking in thousands) gather for a not-so-happy event. Parents tying sacred threads on their own Einstein’s wrists. Some tears are shed but it’s mostly sweat as you’re on the road till they open the gates.

Finally, the paper arrives. Oh My God. It’s tough. They’ve even changed the pattern. Trust them to do this. The next two or three hours are like a journey to ‘the Other Realm’ and back. As the clock ticks and you’re clueless about answers you wonder: why the invigilator opted for this career, why they don’t use the money they earn from such events to renovate the School, why the lead pair of your favourite serial have such a tough time expressing their feelings to each other, why the guy in front seems very familiar( over the next ten minutes you realize he’s an acquaintance’s boyfriend), why that person chose to be with this guy follows and finally you wonder about what’s being made for dinner. As the bell rings you feel uneasy handing over your OMR sheet( however, it’s not because you’re really attached to it or proud of it) but eventually part ways with it.

As you leave you probably wonder why you wasted your time but hope for the best. Parents greet you with anticipation. You give answers. Little do you realize that it’s what you’ll be doing till the results are declared. On Result Day, “Best of Luck :)” SMSes are circulated. As the time comes closer you reach for your savior( the internet, what else). You find your name in the list. Marks and Rank should NEVER be discussed. Then you search for the names of people you know. Most didn’t make it. All of the invincible Top Ten at your Coaching Centre certainly didn’t… Sh**! The freaky guy and the bimbo made it. It’s a personal defeat. Of course, then there’s the quota. At this point you really regret not being a part of the exclusive quota-club. This is the biggest truth about the Entrance Exam. 49% reservation(for most) and so many people! Anyway, calls are exchanged and the disappointment is dutifully passed along.

What after Result day? Some are called for counseling while others wait for 2nd, 3rd and 4th lists to be published. The majority apply to private institutions and try using means that are not as pious as you’d want. The dream of walking through those doors and having fun shatters. But that’s life. That’s The Great Indian Entrance Exam or rather ‘the Great Tamasha’.

( This is a personal account of the entrance exam experience. It isn’t intended to upset anyone or comment on any issue.)


  1. Its very well written. Atleast 95% is true for me.. though I haven’t appeared in any entrance examination yet, still my imaginations almost match and moreover my hopes and expectations too. That ‘AC’ , checking out campus. Wow…its great. And I think after the exam also the same things are going to happen to me. As I am just busy fantasizing whole day and night.

    *FYI, I am a Bengali and yes I don’t have brawn but I neither have brain also! 🙁

  2. wow. this inspired to do big things in life. and now i have a job. i owe it all to this post. thank you for making me feel human again.

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