Choosing Your Own Providence: A Beginner’s Guide to College Admissions in India

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

What we choose to pursue after high school has a significant impact on the rest of our lives. It might not decide where we might end up, but it does have a considerable say in what we might end up doing. This article aims to help you make this important choice with your best foot forward, whether to put yourself through 5 years of med school or to pursue a career in the intricate art of fashion designing.

The sad reality is that at the end of high school, most students are ill-equipped to choose what to pursue due to the confusing and complicated system of college admissions in India. We might have a fair understanding of which field to pursue and which college we would like to go to, however, how to approach college admissions which are dictated by complicated tests confuses the best of us.

This article compiles a list of all competitive exams in India - simplified to make college admissions more approachable so that it is easier for you to choose your future college. The compilation is course-specific, so feel free to skip right ahead to the subjects you are most interested in!

Fashion and Design

Credits - @eris_tan

NIFT Entrance test

The National Institute of Fashion Technology is the pioneer institute in India for the study of fashion design. With around 15 centres all around the country, more than 30 thousand students apply to this institute every year. NIFT has a common entrance exam which is usually conducted in January. Following the release of the exam results, students go through counselling and are admitted into various campuses across the country. NIFT is reputed to have a wonderful campus life and the best opportunities in Fashion Design in India.

Although NIFT is one of the most popular institutes for Fashion Design in India, many other institutes have their specific exams and their particular criteria like the Symbiosis Institute of Design, MIT Institute of Design, and Footwear Design and Development Institute. The ideal choice depends on your location and the ranking and culture you desire. To make an informed choice about your future college based on what you want out of your college experience, visit the institutes’ websites, and learn more about their campuses and admission specifics.

Social Sciences

Credits - IJASS

The Social Sciences consist of fields such as Psychology, Sociology, Literature, Economics, History, and Political Science, amongst many others. Due to the variance and vastness of the courses offered in the Social Sciences, there is no nationwide college or common entrance exam for this field.

Typically, admission in the Social Sciences for most colleges or universities is either based on the high school grades or college/university-specific entrance exams and applications. To avoid applying to too many colleges and draining yourself out, giving numerous entrance exams, look for colleges that fit your expectations for college. Look at college websites, the credentials of the college professors, course layouts, and extracurriculars offered to decide where you want to study. After you have settled on a list of colleges that match your criteria, research their admissions process, most colleges will take high school scores, but if they have specific exams, familiarise yourself with the format of the exam. Some famous institutes are Delhi University, Ashoka University, Banaras Hindu University, IIT Madras Humanities and Social Sciences, and Tata Institute of Social Sciences.


Credits - Shutter stock

The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) is conducted by the consortium of national law universities spread across the country. Since it is a common entrance exam, you don’t need to worry about giving a large number of exams. There are a total of 22 universities that consider this exam for admissions. It is also used for admission into PG courses. The exam pattern is relatively simple; it consists of sections on reasoning, current affairs, and comprehension skills. Although most law institutes accept CLAT, there are law institutes that have their entrance exams. An example of this is National Law University, Delhi, which requires the All India Law Entrance Test (AILET). Many institutes also accept scores of the LSAT India exam.

Pure Sciences and Mathematics

Credits - Mohit Mangal

There are many colleges in India offering Pure Science and Math degrees for three years or more. Admission into these fields is highly competitive, considering the number of people applying for them. Most of these colleges base their admissions decisions on high school scores in Science and Maths, but some top universities like IISc, IISER, and ISI have their own exams.

Kishore Vaigyanik Protsahan Yojana (KVPY)

This exam is a scholarship eligibility exam and admissions exam for IISc (Indian Institute of Science). IISc has won the title of the best university in India for many years. The course content and opportunities that IISc provides parallel those of international institutes. The exam can be taken in Grades 11 and 12.

National Entrance Screening Test (NEST)

NEST is the admissions exam for IISERs (Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research). There are more than five institutes spread across the country. ISSER offers pure sciences degrees in the field of Chemistry, Physics, and Biology.

Indian Statistical Institute Admission

The Indian Statistical Institute is a college dedicated to the fields of Mathematics and Statistics. The institute conducts a yearly exam, which consists of two 3-hour long papers, for admissions. The exam has both subjective and objective questions. The exam requires extensive knowledge of high school mathematics.


Credits - Connol

There are a large number of colleges in India which offer a degree in engineering. Most of them take admission through a common entrance exam but, then again, many have their own admission tests.

JEE Mains

The Joint Entrance Exam Mains is the standard entrance test for many engineering colleges. It is also an eligibility criterion for the JEE Advanced. Colleges like the NITs, Thapar University, DTU, and others, use JEE Mains scores for the admissions decisions. After giving the JEE exam, students go to various colleges’ counselling where they can choose fields based on their score rankings. Every year almost 12 lakh students give this exam, making it very competitive.

JEE Advanced

JEE advanced is the entrance exam for the well-established IITs. To be able to give this exam you need to clear JEE Mains. Since there are limited seats at the IITs, you require a high rank to get admitted to these institutes.

In addition to these two exams, universities like Birla Institute of Technology, Vellore Institute of Technology, and others, also administer entrance exams specific to their universities.


Credits - Medical Association


The National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test is a highly regarded exam for medical aspirants. It is a nationwide exam held for students seeking admission into governmental as well as private medical colleges (except AIIMS). Over 16 lakh students compete in this exam for a chance to pursue medicine. This examination assesses basic understanding of Physics, Chemistry, and Biology.

AIIMS Examination

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences offers a total of 1,150 seats nationwide for high school science graduates. More than 3 lakh students appear for the exam each year. The test is set for 12th-grade students in the subjects of Physics, Chemistry, Biology with equal percentiles, and mandatory GK and Aptitude tests are usually taken online in an MCQ format. Admission cutoffs vary each year taking in the top rankers of the exam.

This list gives a brief overview of the most common college admissions exams in India. Make sure you thoroughly research the disciplines you hope to pursue, specifically if it isn’t very common. Although you always have the option of switching fields in the future, by researching the fields well before making your choice now can save you from having to struggle in the future. Remember to choose an area you are genuinely interested in and always remember that it is never too late to pursue the dreams that you desire.

23 views0 comments
Original on Transparent.png