A Brief Overview of JEE MAINS Exams, Cut-offs, and its impact.

Women and people from marginalised communities are underrepresented in these competitive exams.

JEE Main is a computer-based online test conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) across different states in India. It is for students aspiring to pursue undergraduate courses in India in top engineering institutes, such as NITs, IIITs etc. The JEE Advanced is designed for students aspiring to pursue studies in IITs.

Until 2018, this Examination was being conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). From 2019, the NTA started conducting the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) MAIN.

What is JEE (Main)?

The Joint Entrance Examination, JEE (Main) comprises two papers. 

Paper 1 is conducted for admission to Undergraduate Engineering Programs (B.E/B.Tech.) at NITs, IIITs, other Centrally Funded Technical Institutions (CFTIs), and Institutions/Universities funded/recognized by participating State Governments. JEE (Main) is also an eligibility test for JEE (Advanced), which is conducted for admission to IITs. 

Paper 2 is conducted for admission to B. Arch and B. Planning courses.

What does JEE cut-off mean and how it is calculated?

The cut-off marks for ‘JEE Mains’ refer to the minimum marks required to qualify for the next round of the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE). Once the exams are conducted and candidates’ performance are evaluated, the NTA declares the cut off marks for the JEE Main exams. The cut-off marks can vary from year to year and are based on the following factors.

Difficulty level of the examination

Number of candidates appeared in the examination

The overall performance level of the candidates.


Indian Nationals belonging to certain categories are admitted under the seats reserved for them in accordance with the rules prescribed by the Government of India. The categories and the extent of reservation are as follows:

• Economically Weaker Section (GEN- EWS) – 10% of seats.

• Other Backward Classes belonging to the Non-Creamy Layer (OBC- NCL) – 27% of seats.

• Scheduled Caste (SC) – 15% of seats.

• Scheduled Tribe (ST) – 7.5% of seats.

• Persons with Disability (PwD) – 5% of seats in GENERAL, GEN-EWS, OBC-NCL, SC, and ST category seats.

Refer: 2023 information bulletin of JEE Mains exam.

Percentage vs Percentile

Although these words have phonetic similarities, both are not the same. They have a huge difference.

Percentage is a number or ratio expressed as a fraction of 100.

For example – imagine an exam having 100 marks in total. In that, 70 percent is 70 marks. This remains constant irrespective of the number of students attending the exam and their scores.

Whereas in percentile, we need to sequence the scores in order and mark a particular place. For example, the scores of 10 students in an exam are

89, 90, 90, 91, 93, 94, 96, 98, 98, 99.

Here 50th percentile is 93.

If a candidate is said to have gotten 98th percentile, it means the candidate’s marks are higher than 98% of the candidates who appeared for the exam. Recently, ‘Zero’ percentile was set as eligibility for NEET-PG candidates. In that case, even the person with the least mark (even negative marks) will be eligible and the candidate need to just attend the exam.

Comparison of JEE (Mains) cut-off for the past five years:

NTA releases category wise score cut off marks online every year after the results are published. We have attached the last five-year Cut-Off data of the JEE Main 2023, JEE Main 2022, JEE Main 2021, JEE Main 2020, and JEE Main 2019 for your reference.

To prevent the occurrence of ties between candidates, the National Testing Agency (NTA) calculates JEE Main cut-off percentile up to seven decimal places. On the basis of cut-off marks, students will get admission in various government and private institutions.

On comparing the above table, the cut-off marks of SC, ST looks to be less compared to the other categories. The truth is the cut-off marks is calculated based on the percentile not the percentage.

Comparison of candidates appeared on exam year-wise data:

When we look at the numbers of year 2019, the number of candidates appearing from SC and ST is considerably lesser than other categories and as a result, their cut-off scores are lower too.

Data for 2019

When we look at the numbers of the year 2020, there was a drop in all categories except the transgender candidates compared to the previous year, which is insignificant compared to the overall figures.

Data for 2020

In the year 2021, we see that, there was a huge decline of around 4 lakh candidates appearing for the exams compared to the previous year. This may be due to the Covid pandemic. 

Data for 2021

Here, in the year 2022, we see a good jump in the numbers of candidates overall appearing for the exam compared to the previous couple of years.

Data for 2022

When we take the year 2023, this has shown the best numbers compared to the past 5 years of data in the candidates appearing for the exam.

Data for 2023

Looking at the last 5 years’ data, the SC candidates form about 8 to 9.5% of total candidates appearing for exams as opposed to their population of 16.6% in India as per 2011 census. There is a similar disparity in the number of candidates belonging to the ST community as well. Only around 3.5% of total candidates are STs compared to their 8.6% in total population.

There are no clear data on percentage of people from OBCs and General Categories as that data is not part of the census and also, we are handicapped with the 2011 census as the 2021 census has not been taken yet. Quite naturally, the cut-off in these categories go down as there is relatively less competition in the SC/ST category as less candidates appear for these exams as opposed to their population percentage.

The socio-economic factors leading to the awareness, access and affordability of higher education is skewed towards the relatively well-off OBCs and the General/Upper castes who are at the top of the caste pyramid.

Notably, there is a dissatisfaction amongst those who are opposed to reservation that the SCs and STs have relatively lesser cut-offs in competitive exams compared to other categories. The dissatisfaction stems from lack of awareness about the importance of social justice coupled with distaste for social equality and fair representation of castes, in some cases, particularly amongst those from the castes placed at the top of the society’s caste ladder.

Quite strikingly, the number of female candidates appearing in these exams are just around 30% compared to their 50% in overall population. Even in the IITs, the women students make up of less than 20% despite several efforts starting from 2018 prior to which women constituted to only 10% of the students.


JEE Mains 2023 Result 

JEE Main 2021 Cut-off

Information bulletin JEE Mains exam 2019

Information bulletin JEE Mains exam 2020

Information bulletin JEE Mains exam 2021

Information bulletin JEE Mains exam 2022

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