50 percent of first year engineering students in Chennai flunk physics exam

Of the 1.08 lakh students of colleges affiliated to Anna University who appeared for physics exam in April-May this year, only 52,000 managed to clear the paper.
Students participating in Day I of counselling for engineering courses on the Anna University premises at Guindy  in the city on Monday | Sunish P Surendran
Students participating in Day I of counselling for engineering courses on the Anna University premises at Guindy in the city on Monday | Sunish P Surendran

CHENNAI: Physics is turning out to become an Achilles heel for engineering students in Tamil Nadu, as nearly half of them, who joined Anna University last year, have failed in the subject.

Nearly 1.08 lakh students studying in colleges affiliated to the university appeared for the physics exam conducted in April-May this year. Out of this, only 52,000 passed and the remaining 47 per cent failed.

Significantly, the performance of these students in physics during their Class 12 board exams in April 2016 was also poor. In that particular year, only five students managed to score a perfect 200, unlike the previous years. Also, close to 37,600 candidates across Tamil Nadu failed to secure the minimum pass mark. Though the average mark secured by candidates in this subject ranged between 127 and 128 in the last years, many have managed to score only between 70 and 80.

An analysis of the academic performance of these students in other science and mathematics-related courses on joining undergraduation also painted a similar picture. According to the results released by Anna University this week, close to 45pc first-year students failed in mathematics and 38pc failed in chemistry.

S Sankar, a physics professor from Madras Institute of Technology, said that on an average, only 5 to 10 per cent students failed in engineering physics as it was a continuation of Class XII content and this result was completely unexpected, particularly with Choice-Based-Credit-System (CBCS) in place. The CBCS enables students to select courses and complete them by earning the required credit points at a pace decided by them.

“Many students depend on local guides available to clear their board exams and these students without understanding the basic concepts struggle to cope with advanced topics in college,” said a senior official from Anna University. The official also expressed concern over the quality of teachers roped in by certain tier-II and rural colleges, which, in turn, could have reflected on the students’ performance.

One student from a self-financing college in Coimbatore requesting anonymity said that the question pattern was changed recently and many found the compulsory 15-mark question difficult. The question considered to be an application-oriented one puts students in a real-time fix and expects them to come out with a practical solution for it.

One in every three engineering students studying in colleges affiliated to AU has failed in one or more subjects. Of the 9.24 lakh BE and BTech students in these colleges who appeared for second semester exams, 2.66 lakh failed.

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