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JEE Main explained: Here’s everything you wanted to know about the 2021 exam

When will the exam be held, how long will it be, how many questions will it have, how many attempts will a student be able to make, which languages can the exam be taken in… Read on to get the answers to these and many more questions.

December 21, 2020 / 12:17 PM IST
Representational image

Representational image

The Education Ministry and National Testing Agency (NTA) have made changes in the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) for 2021, allowing students up to four attempts every year. JEE is the admission test for entry into undergraduate engineering courses across institutes in India.

Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank said that a candidate need not appear for all the four sessions. However, if a candidate appears in more than one session, then his/her best 2021 NTA score will be considered for preparation of the merit list/ranking.

But there are some rules governing multiple attempts and how the exam will be conducted from next year. Moneycontrol attempts to break them down:

Exam dates

In 2021, the JEE Main will be held in February, March, April and May. The JEE Main 2021 Examination will be held as a computer-based test except for the B.Arch. drawing test, which will be held offline in pen and paper mode.


The first session will be held on February 23, 24, 25 and 26. The second session will be held on March 15, 16, 17 and 18. The third session will be held on April 27, 28, 29 and 30, while the fourth will be held on May 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28 May. The standard operating protocols for the tests will be released in February 2021.

Fees can be paid for all the four sessions at the same time in case the candidate has genuine concerns about exam dates clashing or health issues. In case a candidate does not want to appear in a session for which the fee has already been paid, it will be refunded by the NTA, provided the request is received during the application process of the session from which the candidate wants to withdraw.

Exam paper language format

As part of the National Education Policy (NEP) implementation, candidates will be given the option of writing the JEE Main 2021 in a language of their choice. So, the exam will be conducted in Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu in addition to Hindi and English.

However, considering that all the preparation books currently are available only in English and Hindi, it is unlikely that students will opt for other regional languages.

Multiple attempts

While the education minister announced that a student can make four attempts, this facility is to ensure that students who have board examinations in a particular month (during the four sessions) can take the examinations during the other three sessions.

Students who are part of containment zones or have family/are themselves affected by Covid can give the JEE Main in a different month.

The multiple attempts will come in handy for students who have been on the borderline and not been able to make the cut for their favourite courses at IITs. If a student makes two or three attempts, the best score out of the three will be used to decide the final merit list in May/June.

Sources said that after declaration of the results of one session, the NTA — the body conducting the exam — will give students the opportunity to apply for future sessions based on their performance.

Examination pattern

The question paper will contain 90 questions, in which the candidate will have to attempt a total of 75 questions.

For BE/B Tech courses, each subject will have two sections. Here, Section A will be of Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs) and Section B will contain questions whose answers are to be filled in as a numerical value.

In Section B, candidates have to attempt any five questions out of 10. There will be no negative marking for Section B.

The first shift of the exam will be 9 am to 12 pm while the second shift will be 3 pm to 6 pm. For Section B, there will be no negative marking across BE, B Arch and B Planning.

It is advisable that students apply in advance for all the four sessions to avoid last-minute delays.




M Saraswathy
first published: Dec 21, 2020 12:17 pm

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