“The exams were postponed but finally they are happening. The competition will increase. I think there will be a 10% hike in the overall cutoff marks than what was there last year. This is my second attempt,” says Yashaswi Gupta, 20, from Delhi.

The Joint Engineering Entrance exams, deferred twice in view of the pandemic, got underway amid accelerating infections with the main exam held from September 1 to 6, the first large-scale exam conducted in the country amid the pandemic.

Over nine lakh candidates registered to take the exam for admission to engineering courses in the IITs, NITs and Centrally Funded Technical Institutions.

However, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said that 75% JEE Main candidates in the state could not appear for the exam held on September 1 due to the pandemic and lockdowns.

In Gujarat, 45% registered students could not take the JEE Main on the first day. According to a senior official, the percentage of students skipping JEE Main stood at 25-30% in earlier years.

The government has postponed the JEE-Advanced or IIT-JEE exam date from September 23 to September 27.

Said Umang, 18, “I am actually from Patna and during the lockdown I was living with my relatives in Kaushambi, near the Ghaziabad area. We thought it’s okay, we will cooperate with it, when it was postponed for the first time. Besides, we would get a little extra time.

“Then it was postponed for second time in July and we thought it would affect our preparations. Looking at the current conditions, we thought it would be postponed this time too. Our admit card came 10-12 days before the exam, confirming it was going to take place.”

Kirtar Bansal, 18, from Uttar Pradesh shares how “Actually, our experience with studies during the lockdown was full of irregularities. Earlier, we thought the exams would take place in April so we started preparing accordingly. Afterwards we changed our preparations, and afterwards again. So because of all of these things, our studies got affected a lot. Our studies were disturbed due to constant uncertainties in our mind about whether the exam would take place or not. There are certain things on social media circulating about exams, which affected me as well.”

A student looking at the JEE center in Noida, UP

Hand sanitiser in use before the JEE

JEE Advanced is the entrance exam for admission to the IITs

Disease distancing maintained at the Noida centre

Students enter the center while keeping a 3 foot distance

An overview of the center in Noida

A security guard checks a JEE candidate’s temperature

Family members watch their children enter the exam

A candidate waits for her turn to enter

A security guard seems exhausted as the temperature surged

A father giving support to his child before the JEE