Close to 4 lakh students across the country, a near 25% increase over last year's 3.2 lakh, appeared for the Indian Institute of Technology joint entrance examination (IIT-JEE) on Sunday for a shot at one of the coveted 8,000-odd seats across 15 IITs, the IT-BHU (Institute of Technology- Banaras Hindu University) and ISMU (Indian School of Mines University), Dhanbad. The cut-offs this year are expected to be slightly lower than last year, one of the reasons being that the paper was relatively more difficult. To make sure that the seats for SC/STs are not left vacant, IIT directors have decided to hike the 40 % relaxation in scores to 50 % from 2009. This, incidentally, was the second IIT-JEE exam after the 27 % OBC quota decision in premier higher education institutes was upheld by the Supreme Court. Last year, six new IITs joined the IIT bandwagon, while two new ones, at Indore and Himachal Pradesh, are to become operational this year, with an expected intake of 120 each. The overall number of seats will increase as all the IITs will implement the second phase of the OBC reservation.
IIT Kharagpur JEE chairman A N Samanta told ET, 'The exact number of seats hasn't been decided yet, but the total number of seats available to students is expected to be close to the 8,000 mark this year. For the second phase of reservation, most of the IITs, barring IIT-Roorkee, will be increasing the number of seats by 18%.' He added that the IIT-JEE examination had been conducted in more than 800 centres across the country. The exam, like last year, consisted of two papers of three hours each. The first paper had 60 questions and 80 marks per subject totaling 240 marks. Paper II, held between 2-5 pm, had 57 questions, again amounting to 240 marks. Maximum marks in both the papers was 480 as compared to 489 in 2008. Overall, Maths was voted the most difficult section, more so in the second paper than in the first. Career Launcher president and CEO Sharad Awasthi said, 'from the first-cut analysis, I think scoring around 150 is likely to get a general category student a rank. He added that, 'last year, the cut-off was around 172 out of 489 for a 7900 rank.'