Monday, June 1, 2009

The Hardest Exam in the World

The following piece was hand-written by me on the 8th day of April in 2007. It is complete fact, no fiction. Please read it till the end. Entertainment guaranteed.

“Wake up and get ready”, shouted my dad,” We have to leave by 8 o’clock sharp.” I had to appear for the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) today. The JEE is the test for entrance into one of the seven prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT’s).

As I had already been accepted into college, I had not bothered to prepare even a little. My Physics, Chemistry and Math textbooks had been stacked away in one corner of my study table since March, and by now a thick layer of dust resided over them. Obviously, I had no hope of cracking the hardest exam in the word. But why not take a shot in the dark!

Never reaching on time for anything till date, I decided to continue the tradition. I walked into the exam room, full of tense students praying to the Almighty, after the instructions had been elaborated upon and the question papers along with the answer booklets already distributed. But I wasn’t at all worried! I took a copy of my materials, completed all the required details like filing in my name, registration number etc., and went and sat relaxingly on my window seat.

At sharp 9 am, the bell rang. The examinees around me frantically opened the seals on their question booklets and started working immediately, so as to make the most of every minute given. On the other hand, I kept looking around the room and glancing out of the window, checking out the huge playground the school had. I could even keep an eye on the school main gate where hundreds of parents were still anxiously waiting till things had settled down. Forget all of that, thank God I was assigned a window seat!

By 9:20 am I decided it was high time I opened my question booklet. Surprisingly I did know something; the answer to exactly one problem. I quickly shaded the correct option in my answer sheet. Now my hopes had been raised. I started reading the following questions. No prizes for guessing that I barely knew anything else. Barely knew, ha, I just did not know anything at all. Fifteen questions read and the Physics section ended, twenty five questions passed, end of the Chemistry section, half-way through the Math section, end of the Math section; I just did not know anything.

It was only 9:30 am and I was done with my 1st paper. I’m sure I set a new record for finishing the exam in the least time ever.  Believe me, very very few people can manage to finish a 3-hour exam in less than 30 minutes. My answer booklet was as clean as the whiteboard in front of me, so I started thinking of how to fill it up. I decided to randomly choose one of the options (either A, B, C or D) and mark that for all the questions. Why not try my luck? There wasn’t much further below to go from here anyways, the only way was upwards.  After a quick ‘Inky-Pinky-Ponky’ I chose option C and shaded that through my answer sheet. Now it was no longer empty. I was proud of myself. Not too many people have the capacity or capability to attempt all the questions on this test.

By 9:35 am I had ‘solved’ every single question. As the rule stood, I was not allowed to leave the exam hall before the end of the scheduled time. Once again, I decided to make full use of my window seat. By 10 am I was bored out of my brains and I couldn’t digest the fact that I had two more hours to pass in the same position. I tried to take a nap. I think I dozed off by about half-past ten.

Extremely unfortunately, I was woken up within fifteen minutes. “Are you fine?”, asked the female invigilator.

“Yes, absolutely fine.”

“Have you finished your exam?”

“Ya, long back.” I showed her my answer sheet like a narcissist would. She was taken aback.

“Fast”, was all she managed to say.

Yet again I tried going back to sleep. Thankfully I fell asleep immediately and woke up after forty five minutes. Now I had only another 20 minutes pass by. My condition could be compared to that of a restless passenger on a long transatlantic flight on which there are absolutely no sources of recreation with a cabin temperature of 40 degrees Celsius. I got up from my seat, stretched a bit, cracked my finger joints and walked off to the bathroom. I splashed my sweaty face with some cold water, put my hair in place and decided to model for a bit in front of the mirror. I must say, too much free time has strange effects on people. After ten minutes I went back to my chair.

“Ten minutes left” announced the proctor. I looked at her trying hard to control my smile. The effect of this announcement on the rest of the examinees was completely opposite. They started panicking and solving questions at the speed of light (but obviously none could match my speed!). At this time, the only people smiling in the entire room were the invigilator and me.

The finishing bell rang. Music to my ears. I got up and submitted my paper before it could be collected and very happily walked out. Don’t worry the story doesn’t end here. I had a 2-hour break after which I had to attempt paper-II which was also sadly three hours long.

At 12 noon and 40 degrees Celsius, I sat in an auto rickshaw from right outside the school gate and met up with my friends who were also appearing for the same test. Over lunch we discussed who had slept the most, who had been able to disrupt his entire class the most, who had been able to pass his time most easily and who would score a lower negative score! At 1:30 pm we parted and left for our respective centers, prepared for another three hours of torture.

Back in the exam room, I quickly filled in all the necessary details. As soon as the bell rang, even I immediately tore off the seal on my question booklet and began reading the first couple of questions. In an instant I concluded that I did not know anything yet again. Déjà vu! Though this time round, I did not waste my time (not like there was any shortage of it!) skimming through the questions. I straight marked option C for all.

Action replay. I had finished answering all the questions even before most people had turned over the first page of their question booklets. I had broken my earlier record; I was through in fifteen minutes flat! Again I would somehow have to pass another 3 hours till the clock showed 5 pm. I tried taking a nap. After a satisfying lunch, the hot wind blowing on my face from the window and having absolutely nothing to do, it really wasn’t that hard to doze off. I slept for about an hour, waking up at 3:30 pm. Just an hour-and-a-half left! I’m sure you feel my joy.

Now, I decided to make use of the few thousand pages provided to me for rough work. It wouldn’t take a genius to guess that each of my rough pages in both booklets was as clean as a whistle. I thought of writing something. But what?

Finally, I narrowed down on writing about my experience at the IITJEE. What a wonderful story it would be to tell. The events were also fresh in my mind. So I started writing and just continued to write till 5pm. As I write this line my smile extends from one ear to the other. My happiness is uncontrollable because the finishing bell is ringing and I am free yet again.

Today it has been proved that the JEE is the hardest exam to ‘pass’, literally!

-Saksham Karwal



  1. Gr8 man!!!
    Reading this brought back the memories of that rather eventful(or should I say uneventful) day.
    Though meeting up at subways and seeing people around us discussing how the paper went and then making fun of them was the good part. Also remember you showing me this piece that day.

  2. Hahaha! Lunch was the best part of that day man.
    I found my question booklet on Saturday, it was with my cousin who had taken it to prepare for his exam. I just had to type this out...

  3. dude you should keep that booklet as proof that you gave that exam.(prob the toughest you will ever see all your life)

  4. I've kept it safely. I'm gonna post a video of the booklet on the blog as well.

  5. Well i have my memories attached with the BIG BLEHH BLEHH 2,and later i came 2 know that there have been few suicide cases too as aftermath of this biggy TTES exam.Sucks..

    Well i was in hostel and my dad specifically sent 1200 RS i guess that was the Fee that time if am not wrong for this mighty TTES and since it was last day of my 12th exam we had fun with that money at PVR Saket.

    I wonder when will Indian parents mentality change there is lyf beyond the mighty TTES.

    I told the truth to my dad after clearing my CEEE and getting admission into engg in one of the college in haryana.I am happy and enjoyin my lyf without any regrets of not filling the forms for TTES.

    d00d cool thay you blogged about it i got chance to crib about the TTES laugh..........

    gud luck !!

    keep more coming

  6. I must commend you for not wasting the money for the test. It's like paying for pain.

    I was very sure that there are people like you & me out there who know that there is life beyond IIT's and that they are not the be all and end all of life. I am happy you share the same view.

    This was just a lighter side to it!

  7. While reading your blog my smile too extended from one ear to the other.
    I don't know how are you in studies but I think you can very good writer because you have very good sense of humor. You can make people in mood with your writing.
    Have a nice dar bro.