Changes in this year's National Aptitude Test in Architecture (NATA) have baffled many students aspiring to pursue their BArch. The Council of Architecture (CoA), which conducts NATA, has included mathematics as a 40mark component in the 200mark paper. A separate section for mathematics was never part of NATA since its inception a decade ago. The council has even moved to an offline exam that will be conducted on April 16, instead of online tests conducted in phases between April-August-end every year.

Students could reappear in slots and the best of the five tests were considered as the final score for admissions. Students could take the test at their convenience and could better their score, said a teacher from a city architecture college, adding that it was meant to be an aptitude test. With the exam on a single day, many will not be able to enjoy the benefit of the multiple-test system. The exam is also on a Sunday, in between the class XII exam of some state boards and CBSE exam this year, added the teacher.“The test pattern has moved from being progressive to regressive,“ said the teacher.

Maharashtra, which comprised around one-fifth of aspirants taking the test, used to conduct its own test till 2015.The state decided to use NATA scores for admissions to architecture colleges in 2016. For admissions to the five-year BArch course, 50% weightage each is given to NATA and the aggregate of class XII scores (includes scores in mathematics).“The council should rethink its decision to include mathematics in NATA. There is no need to evaluate students in mathematics as they already appear for the subject in the qualifying exam. This will ensure more creative minds from Arts and Commerce background, who are not good at mathematics, also get a decent rank in the test, “said Rajiv Mishra, a professor for 25 years from JJ School of Architecture.

Council president B Nayak said NATA used to test students on numerical ability before too. “The mathematics component will be based on class XII CBSE syllabus. Our aim is to test the aptitude of students in all aspects of architecture. If they are not good in mathematics till class XII, they find it difficult to cope with the subjects later. Our attempt is to get more Science students in colleges, and meritorious ones. We need not continue to follow a wrong pattern forever,“ said Nayak. He added that the single-day test was being conducted to eliminate malpractices and bring about standardization and transparency. But a student said the class XII mathematics syllabus in CBSE was different from state boards.