Australian Professors React to India’s Toughest Exam

Hi everyone so last year I made a video
about India’s JEE advanced exam but I don’t think that I really did it justice
so for this video I wanted to invite some experts in science and engineering
to share their thoughts on the exam. They spoke about the difficulty of the
questions, whether they thought the exam would prepare students well for the
future and also shared their thoughts on exams as a whole. I also spoke to a
couple of Indian students who took the JEE and are now doing research work here
in Australia. For those not familiar the JEE exam is an admissions exam into
engineering colleges and it’s sat by over a million students competing for
just a few thousand places. You sit two papers, each three hours long on the same
day and it’s a multiple choice. So with that let’s hear what people had to
say about it. I thinks it’s a very tough exam so if I was a
student at high school and if this was intimidating when you first read it I
would not be surprised and if it’s not at all intimidating for you then I would
say congratulations because you’re a very impressive student. Well it’s really really interesting. It looks pretty difficult for example the question in physics I know I
couldn’t probably can’t answer you know maybe most of it now though maybe 30
years back I could do. You know these exams seem you know they’re very long, they have a very wide variety of questions they cover and they’re
hard I think any student who comes up against these exams is gotta feel
pretty lousy by the end of it. I’d probably you know leave the exam room
crying if I was in year 12 and I had to do this yeah good luck good luck So when we compare this JEE with some of
the subjects that are taught here in some of our cities in Australia, so
here is a question paper I was looking at, the depth of questions that are asked
can be even difficult for students in the first or second year who are studying in
bachelor degree level in Australia. It’s really quite ambitious that they’re
trying to test chemistry and physics and maths and the paper is laid out fairly
nicely in that you have to earn one mark per minute. Looking at the questions a
lot of them are in some sense sort of elementary in the sense that they use
the kind of maths taught in high schools although in some
areas I would say the syllabus in calculus and a couple of other areas
goes somewhat beyond what is currently taught in Australian schools or
currently examined in Australian schools but a lot of the questions are basically
tricky or slightly sneaky but also don’t necessarily require you to work through
the question in full detail. With multiple choice questions you
have to simply decide can I reject this possibility or not. There is some attempt
to stop people gaming that way by applying penalties to some wrong answers but still it’s very much a race against the clock. I think the mathematic questions are clever it looks for the person’s
understanding of the matter just rather than doing some direct questions so in
that sense you know they are okay they can they can be done and you
know some of these concepts I do even use in my course here in masters course
here especially those involved with the system of linear equations and
determinants and those concepts. So concepts like high spin and low spin
inorganic complexes that’s something that the University of
Melbourne in first year chemistry we would treat in second semester. There was a
question on essentially Arrhenius equations so a rate of reaction as a
function of a free energy of the Gibbs free energy so here we go it asks you
something like the activation energy of the backward reaction
exceeds that of the forward reaction by two R T so again you’ve got to basically
I think you’d have to you have to sketch this out you’d have to think about okay
if the back reaction is exceeding the forward reaction what’s the what’s the
reaction free energy um so it’s not just the concepts are difficult i think it’s
asking you in a way that is that is tricky you have to think about, it’s
not just enough to know the equation and you know throw in the numbers, you’ve got
to think about it before you get the number that you’re throwing into the
equation and obviously they’re not letting you have a calculator so I guess another challenge there. Definitely this will set up basic
like a background, a baseline so you could imagine that all the IIT students
would have come with they would have had formed up the fundamentals but from then
onwards there are so many things to learn because after you come to the IITs
there is still you know it will be like a bell curve again. You know for
example you give an exam to you know very tough exam and choose the
best in the world and then give them them another exam and still again the
performance is going to be like a bell but this happens to be this is kind of
something that is there it’s kind of basic needed basic foundations for
engineering but I would guess for nearly the majority of them would be ready to
do for you know go for special engineer education and that that explains
why for example IIT students are you know IIT graduates are doing well around
the world. I had a look at a couple of the one-hour math sections of papers and
I would say I would be fairly challenged to get a decent result on those
in an hour partly because as a professional mathematician I’m
interested in actually telling a story when I answer a problem I want to lay
out why the answer I’m producing is the answer. Simply being able to say the answer
is 27 to me is not so helpful or so interesting and in terms of future
success in in mathematics or indeed in many scientific disciplines the ability
to reason properly and to explain your reasoning clearly is terribly terribly
important. So while I have no reason to believe that using the exam the way it’s
used isn’t selecting very bright students for the engineering colleges
that they’re going to it’s not clear to me that it’s the optimal selector of
that and there is also the ugly question of coaching and unequal access to
resources. We all know that in any educational system if you go to a good
school well resourced with the best teachers and so on like that you expect
a better outcome, that’s ultimately the main justification for spending money on
education as a society, that if you work harder at it you produce better results.
But with these race against the clock style examinations there’s a trade-off
between the student’s ability in the subject, natural intelligence and other things like that and there having been trained to deal
about examinations of this type. Exams can have different purpose and entry
exams that are sort of in a form of a drill type of questions usually require
students to prepare a lot before to practice. The brain is like any other muscle
the more you practice it the better gets so when you have a large pool of
candidates and only small number of spaces usually have drill exams because
what they’re showing is whether the candidate is serious enough whether
they’re able to practice and how they perform under time limited pressured
environment and conditions. They’re not necessarily
prediction of whether that candidate will then do very well in the next step of
Education. So right now I have you know two students who from India’s Institutes of
technology. One from Delhi other from Madras so right now they are here and
carrying out research on applying AI artificial Intelligence and deep learning
techniques for medical applications. So this work they are able to do within you
know short span of time that demonstrates their skills and ability. Maybe a train is moving at this velocity, at this speed, we need to consider is it really possible? is it feasible? and then
there are questions about experience, have I actually seen a wire with young’s
modulus of this? Is it really possible? So those type of questions are
actually come from experience so we actually have to try out various
experiments in lab you have to know that what exactly are the ranges of
practicality that exist in science. Two marks or maybe half mark can change your rank by a great amount, it’s possible . Like getting -2 marks can decrease your rank by 200 or 400 so you need to be very careful about how to attempt which
questions to attempt and we need to be very sure about attempting that question.
Maybe yeah for other students that are preparing for JEE I feel being
open-minded is what would really help right now all those that are thinking of
maybe starting in class 10 or 9 I feel that they need to be open-minded they
need to be considering that yes experiences in life are very important
apart from studies. I feel that those experiences can really help not only in
JEE but also otherwise and yeah enjoying life is very important with studies. One of
my things would be don’t be scared of the examination hall. So I have
experienced that in JEE main that’s that’s not good.
So be open be free whatever you’re studying just put everything and yeah
all the best to all the aspirants. So yeah, when I looked through it there was a lot
of the questions that they are based very much on this sort of principle of
memorization and recitation which i think is just an extraordinarily bad
educational tool because it assumes that everyone has the exact same capabilities
in that area and as someone who never had a great memory for these things and
had to work extra hard and then became a professional physicist for over a decade
you realize very quickly that those particular skills don’t help you much at
all once you’re actually working as a scientist because you know scientists
you know get to the point where the material they’re working with is so
complicated you just don’t remember no one could remember it. So that that skill
of memorization and recitation is not not as helpful as people might think. In
science you know you tend to not be successful every day of your working
career in fact quite the opposite you tend to you know not get anywhere for
quite a while I mean you’ll have one lucky day where something will occur and
your training will allow you to see that and identify it as being special and
that’s what makes a good scientist but for the other 360 odd days of the year
you’ll have a you know pretty rough time and those sorts of skills
those sorts of resilience skills and understanding how science and
engineering work you know the process of falsification is not something that is
tested at all in these sorts of examinations and it’s unfortunate
because you want people with those skills more than you want people with
schools with memorization capabilities. When I looked at the JEE
advanced maths exams it led me to recall an interesting article by the
great British mathematician GH Hardy Indian viewers of this blog will perhaps
be well equated with Hardy who was was generally regarded as responsible
for bringing the great Indian mathematician Ramanujan to the attention of the world
then so Indian viewers should have some affection for Hardy. You have to
understand that when Hardy was a young man and through the early stages of his
career mathematical education the United Kingdom was governed by the
mathematical Tripos examination for Cambridge undergraduates. This was a
highly competitive examination, an examination of great difficulty in the
sense that it required a large amount of preparation and training, paying for
professional coaching and so on like that
and on the basis of your Tripos result this could lead to academic
possibilities but also to to high positions in the British civil service
and the Colonial Office and things like that. In fact it was
viewed generically as some kind of way of detecting deep intellectual
superiority and ranking people and Hardy didn’t have much time for that. Hardy was
actually quite a fan of examinations and quite a fan of lecturing as I am and
this is unfashionable these days what he was not comfortable with was the Tripos
particularly in the in the first version in which he encountered it. In order
for the exam to work the way it did a kind of culture had built up in terms of
the setting of the questions the kinds of questions and so on like that and
most of these had very little to do with mathematics that was either practically
used or intellectually interesting or anything recent in mathematics. It was
basically playing certain games, the examiners would try and set slightly
sneaky questions on certain topics and students would hope to have practiced
lots of questions of a vaguely similar type in the hope that they could get
through this and Hardy saw this as actually warping mathematical education
in the United Kingdom so Hardy’s argument was examinations of the Tripos
style are not a very good way to rank people intellectually and therefore
perhaps one might consider doing things differently. It would be drawing a
long bow to claim that the JEE advanced examination suffers from the defects of
the Tripos nonetheless there are elements
of analogy there particularly the issue of expensive coaching and the diversion
of students away from studying subjects and developing their abilities and
instead teaching them to do certain kinds of questions at great speed which
is not actually something of great use either in the practical applications
of mathematics in the real world or in academic mathematics, scientific
research or scholarship.

60 thoughts on “Australian Professors React to India’s Toughest Exam

  • January 11, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    I agree with Hardy's remarks: such examinations do not test mathematical creativity, only the ability to do well in THAT exam.

  • January 11, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    India's toughest exam?
    Does not even hit the top 10

  • January 11, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    All those comments are too complex and filled with Indian memes that westerners like me do not understand

  • January 12, 2020 at 5:46 am

    Its useless, end of the day

  • January 12, 2020 at 12:24 pm

    Have you heard of Gate?

  • January 12, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    Brace yourself.
    Frustrated Indian students are coming.

  • January 12, 2020 at 9:34 pm

    In India most of kids pass their high school at an age 17-18 years. I wrote this exam at an age of 17. I cleared JEE Main and now in NIT. But JEE advanced was nightmare. I remember I asked my father if I can skip 2nd paperea and go home. He gave me option to write this or get beatings. I wrote both papers. Slept 1.5 hours for both exams out of 3 hours exam. Got near 13000 rank. Couldn't get into IIT.

  • January 13, 2020 at 1:46 pm

    Appeared for the exam cleared it in dreams不不不不不不

  • January 14, 2020 at 2:05 pm

    I like it how 2 out of 4 geniuses were indian origin

  • January 14, 2020 at 4:21 pm

    In india we give this exam at the age of 17 and many of us crack it well … But in outside country even professor tells that it is hard . That's india's talent

  • January 14, 2020 at 4:23 pm


  • January 14, 2020 at 7:53 pm

    Nobody told them about upsc or what

  • January 15, 2020 at 3:47 am

    Just a minute correction: JEE advanced is not India's toughest exam. That would be UPSC.

  • January 15, 2020 at 5:26 am

    Professors from Harvard couldn't clear our UPSC prelims.

  • January 15, 2020 at 9:08 am

    very nice content for knowing about jee

  • January 15, 2020 at 12:09 pm

    Brushing Indians' ego is a huge market.

  • January 15, 2020 at 1:41 pm

    See the paper of AIMS for bio student

  • January 15, 2020 at 2:59 pm

    Lol, I'm in IIT Roorkee.

  • January 15, 2020 at 3:53 pm

    He said right words

    It's not a good exam to select intellectual

    It just select those who can pay good fees , have good memories , and have no aim in life instead of earning money .

  • January 15, 2020 at 7:53 pm

    Have India in your title congratulations u Gain views

  • January 15, 2020 at 10:37 pm

    Of course, the answer is always "42"…

  • January 16, 2020 at 12:27 am

    12:37 the maths professor is spot on. The wisdom says it all

  • January 16, 2020 at 1:50 am

    Toughest thing in IIT is compitition, you have to be in top .01%

  • January 16, 2020 at 5:48 am

    Ya we know about G.H. Hardy especially after "Man who knew Infinity"

  • January 16, 2020 at 8:45 am

    Let me start this with a disclaimer that having given 2 years of my teenage to this ridiculously competitive exam – I in no way support it. I was fortunate enough to crack it, but I have seen the damage it has done to many of my friends. So let's start off with a solid "Screw JEE". That being said, I kind of take offence to what one of the professor's comments which imply that JEE involves rote learning or recitation. Maybe it's a little personal, haha.

    I mean, ask any under 2k-3k ranked student – they at least will definitely agree that rote learning will never give you good returns in JEE. Of course, given the syllabus, there are plenty of equations, laws, names etc that you just have to remember to deal with the questions. But most of it is automatically memorized if you practice enough.

    JEE papers are "cracked" by a combination of a deep/intuitive understanding of the topics to which you have to apply highly analytical thinking. Add to this an organized mind, an ability to recognize similiarities/analogies between problems. Sometimes a "hacky mindset" helps, i.e. exploiting the MCQ nature of the paper. But for most people, (ex-me ) they might "hack" 3 or 4 questions (at the very max, more like 1 for me). People who manage to turn that into a viable strategy usually have a VERY intuitive understanding of the problem. I mean I knew a guy who used to solve the entire Maths paper in this hacky way – and the sort of substitution, elimination strategies he came up with were only possible because he knew very well how the equations would behave when you eliminated this parameter out or substituted that one.

    Another Disclaimer : Of course I am not saying IITians are the best or anything like that. Some continue on this path, others chill out and have a party in college, yet others decide they want to do something else. In the meantime people from "lesser" institutes will often come up, work their ass off and close the gap that the "IIT brand" gives etc etc. Life moves on. People bloom, peak, screw up at different times, and to think of it as a race/competition just induces unnecessary stress.

  • January 16, 2020 at 9:26 am

    That's not the toughest exam for Indians. Living upto the expectations of parents, society, friends, relatives, neighbours and my ancestors is.

  • January 16, 2020 at 10:45 am

    I consider JEE waste, cuz It doesn't prepare people for Real world Problems, it just tests our knowledge that's all…What everyone wants is the person who can solve real world Problems..

  • January 16, 2020 at 12:25 pm

    Why India can't create products like Google,Apple, Microsoft,Oracle,Tesla ? We become their employees instead.

  • January 16, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    These questions are fun to solve but the tests themselves are pointless because of the way students are trained is to pass these exams rather than learn. A lot if institutes train them specifically only to pass.

  • January 16, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    Happy some of the Professors mentioned the memorisation and repetition doesn't work and the system is fucked. But in India this just doesn't sink in !!

  • January 16, 2020 at 1:27 pm

    Waaait a sec! You say JEE's tough..Bah! Try INMO which is given by 13 to 18 years olds! Your head's gonna say 'imma ighta head out' reading the first question!

  • January 16, 2020 at 7:36 pm

    As an Indian who has been through these exams and failed, I can resonate with the Australian professors. My mind was never made to race against time but to understand and solve problems at a holistic level. Often I have found myself reading the books from my previous grade after I had moved on to the next grade or semester in college. It was during these times that I would truly understand something. Mom would often mock me that I understand things a year too late and that too when not necessary. It's not like you have an exam on that subject she'd say. But the reason wasn't that. It was because I didn't have to memorize or test on that subject matter nor was there a clock ticking. Teaching and learning are two very different things. One only ever learns when they teach themselves and that is by experience. These exams really killed by curiosity about science and math. I moved on to computers because that was the only subject with the least gap between theory and practical use. Plus I tested well on it.

  • January 17, 2020 at 10:05 am

    There some professors are Indian and they said it was hard for them.
    And here Indian professors have no value so much competition no one appreciates anyone

  • January 17, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    It's not the toughest exam in India.

  • January 18, 2020 at 4:41 am

    Damn if India manage to get rid most of their corruption issue like China does. Maybe it might boom just as great as china consider it alr doing very well at developing even with all the corruption still in place. People are just talent

  • January 18, 2020 at 9:22 am


  • January 18, 2020 at 1:52 pm

    This is the same situation with Sri Lankan O/L and A/Ls because of the lack of universities and resources. they were made to pick the best of the best students, the cream of the crop. Problem is, the ones who didnt get through arent bad students, its simply they didnt do better than others. If you didnt get through thats it end of education life start working a job because theres no other path way to get to where you want to get unless you got funds to study privately and go to some other country, anybody who cant afford private education who end of the story. The best thing I love about australia is that theres always a path to anybody if they willing to study.

  • January 18, 2020 at 3:46 pm

    Remember this is for students who just passed 12th standard

  • January 19, 2020 at 3:49 am

    Iit is like churning deshi ghee from…Milk…50 ml from.1 litre milk

  • January 19, 2020 at 11:22 am


  • January 19, 2020 at 12:23 pm


  • January 19, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    2:24 to 3:28 is pretty much the essence of jee

  • January 19, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    Cracking Jee exam doesn't make u a physist right away
    It is a process to understand the student's ability and his discipline. Doing engineering teaches you the real life stuff.

  • January 19, 2020 at 4:47 pm

    It's a scam the people who form questions paper they take high paid private tuition, and also caste reservation also there, exam just for name to filter upper caste, that's all nothing educational purposes.

  • January 19, 2020 at 5:25 pm

    To getting selection in college by scoring less marks, you need just one think
    Sc, st, obc certificate,

  • January 19, 2020 at 6:09 pm

    First of all ,JEE isn't the toughest exam in India

  • January 20, 2020 at 3:04 am

    That is the standard of India.Very well advanced and students are writing and getting top scores. May be Australia in education is far behing

  • January 20, 2020 at 5:19 am

    Once make a video on Indian civil service examination

  • January 20, 2020 at 8:47 am

    I didnt fill form for iit becuase i knew what will be the result 不

  • January 20, 2020 at 8:57 am

    11:00 says it all about the education system . students need to understand this.

  • January 20, 2020 at 9:08 am

    Hi ads, do u want to refer the test for students to apply a university in Viet Nam, a nation from south east of Asia.?

  • January 20, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    Only problem with india…
    reservation every where

  • January 20, 2020 at 3:01 pm

    youtube you showed me last year and you are also showing me when jee again is comming

  • January 20, 2020 at 3:03 pm

    Barry Hughes, what a legend!

  • January 20, 2020 at 3:56 pm

    Upsc is India's toughest exam not jee

  • January 20, 2020 at 4:28 pm

    To all engineers and iitians another day has passed and you have not applied calculus in your life . No matter how much we talk about jee the subjects and contents are not applicable in daily life

  • January 20, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    as we know that in JEE 1 mark chnges ur rank so much and in reservation cut off of students is like this
    SC/ST =40

  • January 20, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    Pls review KVPY (Kishor Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojna) q. paper

  • January 20, 2020 at 5:31 pm

    This is not the taughtest exam in India

  • January 20, 2020 at 9:15 pm

    7:08 is the important point.


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