Why we shouldn’t view 100% cut-off in isolation

by Ritwik on June 17, 2011

A well-known college of Delhi University has created sensation by declaring a 100% “cut-off” for students of non-commerce background for its coveted Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) Programme. Predictably, our media-circus has got in the act, thereby rendering impossible any chance of people looking at the matter in the proper context and with the right perspective.

However, I’ll make an attempt to argue that firstly, only part of the blame for this scenario lies with the college or the University, and secondly the brouhaha is premature since cut-offs will be moderated from the second list onward.

While analyzing this matter, it is essential that we first look at how admissions are done at Delhi University. With the exception of English, Journalism and Mass Media, for which entrance exams are conducted, all colleges declare individual course-wise cut-offs. For the purpose of admission, only marks secured in the final exams of Class XII are considered. One could be an exceptional student all through school, and fall ill during the class XII board exams, consequently securing low marks, and be essentially left without a viable choice when it comes to admission to college. To repeat, no consideration whatsoever is accorded to any part of a student’s entire academic record apart from Class XII board exam marks. Talk about arbitrary or what …

DU, being a central university, is not allowed to reserve seats/give concessions to students who have passed out of schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education or the Council for the Indian Schools Certification Examination [CISCE]. Thus, a student securing 90% in exams conducted by a state board say Maharashtra or Andhra Pradesh is treated exactly equal to a student securing 90% in the ICSE exam. While this may appear laudably egalitarian, it has certain deleterious consequences.

Over the years it has been observed that some state boards are more profligate in awarding marks than the higher standards applied by CBSE or CISCE. Hence students belonging to the latter were at a disadvantage. Possibly as a result of this, CBSE and CISCE have been marking on a more liberal curve in the last few years. This, coupled with the fact that our board exams [CBSE and CISCE included] test only one’s regularity, consistency and ability to memorize, thus being easily coachable, has resulted in a virtual explosion of the number of students securing 95% and above.

According to Prof Dinesh Singh, VC of Delhi University, this year as many as 800 students have scored above 95%. The situation is ridiculous because the system is actually encouraging boards like CBSE or CISCE to dilute standards, thus making their very existence redundant since they are expected to be of “higher” quality than the state boards.

So let us accord at least part of the blame for 100% cut-offs to the policies which are encouraging dumbing down by education boards.

Secondly, it is observed year after year that DU colleges get carried away in declaring their first cut-off lists. They cynically assume that students and their parents, especially those who are coming from other states, would be impressed by a college’s high cut-offs and assume it must be a great institution. Much mirth ensued last year when Delhi College of Arts and Commerce (DCAC), at best a college of mediocre reputation, declared a higher commerce cut-off than SRCC, the most renowned commerce college in the country. This year, SRCC hit back by raising the cut-off to 100, thereby ensuring that nobody can appear more prestigious!

Therefore, we should remind ourselves that the first cut-off list is illusionary, and things collapse into reality in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and yes even the 5th cut-off lists. Hindu College, one of the most prestigious in DU, declared 4th cut-off lists in several courses last year.

Just glancing through the cut-off lists for this year, I notice that Hindu has declared a 99% cut-off for commerce, a 95-97% cut off for math, a 89-94% cut-off for political science, and so on. I find these figures amusing. Let us wait for the 2nd list!

In light of the above, it is my ardent request (especially to admission seekers) to avoid being sucked in by the blind hysteria being whipped up by an irresponsible-as-usual media, wait patiently for subsequent cut-off lists, and ask pointed questions to those in authority as to why arbitrariness and lack of common sense rule our education system, from top to bottom.


Ritwik you have raised very valid points in your article. Actually we get mesmirised by numbers and percentage. we never seek to see the progress of the student over the years on the plea that it involves a lot of task and it is not possible for the colleges to go through all such details. After all the teachers have lot of work to do …(ha Ha ). We are a nation that produces graduates and post graduates i.e. a man/woman with a degree.
I instantly remember Kabir Das ji, who has very aptly said that —

Jaat na poochho sadhu ki , poochh lijiye gyan
Mol karo talwar ka , padi rahan do myan
Here in India -, we seek to ask the jaat and the numbers!!! Ha Ha ha ha

by Phool Singh on June 17, 2011 at 4:53 pm. #

Again, A brilliant article…Well done…Makes it well worth my time to read your views.

by siddharth bassi on June 18, 2011 at 10:48 pm. #

Thanks Siddharth. BTW, I thought ode to the west wind was generally considered a difficult poem :p

by Ritwik Agrawal on June 19, 2011 at 12:28 am. #

Students are then left to the mercy of ECA trials.

by USR on June 25, 2011 at 7:05 pm. #

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