Competitive examination

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A competitive examination is an examination where candidates are ranked according to their grades. If the examination is open for n positions, then the first n candidates in ranks pass, the others are rejected. Examples of this type are the Foreign Service Exam and UN Competitive Examination.

Competitive examinations are used in many countries for university and college admissions or admissions to secondary schools (entrance examination) or for positions in the civil service (Civil service examination). They are considered an egalitarian way of choosing worthy applicants without risking influence peddling, favoritism or other concerns.

After Baccalauréat examination, France examination process for undergraduate students includes nation-wide competitive exams prepared in specific prep course referred-to as Classe Préparatoire aux Grandes Écoles. These competitive examinations taken by undergraduate students are required for selective entrance into Graduate schools in science & engineering and into business schools.

In India, entrance examinations are chiefly confined to medicine, engineering, management and the civil services. These range from the BITS Pilani admission test and IIT-JEE where only one in a hundreds can hope to get admission to state level entrances which are many and varied. The stiff competition has led to a situation where many students neglect their school studies and focus solely on 'entrance coaching' which is time-consuming and expensive. This has led many states to scrap the entrances and base admissions on the school leaving marks which, unfortunately are none too reliable. Experts point out that in a country where many different boards are present common entrances are essential, but application skills rather than cramming should be stressed on. Frequent changes in the pattern of examination are essential since sticking to a 'standard text' or 'standard pattern' alone will favour the coaching industry and the rote-learners.

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