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Branch Change - Clearing the Mist(2020/21)

December 20, 2020

The IITs are considered to be the most coveted institutions for undergraduate studies across the country. The fact that only around 1% of the candidates appearing in the entrance exam manage to secure a seat in these institutions is a testament to the quality of students that manage to get through.

But added to this is the disadvantage that your fate is left in the hands of that little amount of magic that you produce during the 6 hrs of one of the most difficult and strenuous examinations across the globe. The incredible load of expectations of all those who surround the examinee sometimes leads to blunders that can cost the candidate his/her dreams. However, the system itself provides the candidates with another chance to deem themselves worthy of their dreams, with the opportunity to change their branch in their freshman year.

In the oldest technical institute of the country, this opportunity presents itself at the end of the first semester. The best part about it? The students compete as equals with nothing but merit separating them from their dreams—that, and of course, their JEE rank that comes back to haunt some of the candidates. Most of the freshmen find themselves struggling to strike that sweet spot of balance between exploring the plethora of opportunities that the campus has to offer and studying “hard enough” in order to have a better shot at changing the cards they were dealt with.

This article aims to dispel some of the myths that seem to surround the idea of changing your branch, make past year statistics easily accessible, and hopefully provide perspective with regards to the ideology behind the process.

Rules and Regulations

So far no changes to the policy have been announced. This article will be updated if and when that happens.

Key Takeaways from the present policy:

  1. The additional 10% seats “added” at the end of the semester are calculated using the original number of seats being offered by the department during the JoSAA counseling. Extra seats are also vacated if students from a department change their branches. (see next picture)
  2. Grades are the only criteria on which preference is given to students. In the case of equal grades, the JEE Advanced rank will be the tiebreaker.
  3. B.Arch students aren’t eligible.

“In India, we don’t choose our major but our major chooses us.”
Reflect on this for a second. Most of the students who enrolled in IIT Roorkee in any branch whatsoever did so without much research about what they were getting into. In fact, the research generally begins after the JEE ranks are out and your future has already been partially decided. Most of us are told to choose any available branch from the old IITs simply because of their reputation(sounds familiar?).

According to the modern-day convention, almost everyone seems to be aiming for the circuit branches without actually even knowing what the stream is all about.

But since we’re already here, how about adopting a different approach?

The first step in any life-changing decision is to identify why you think taking that decision means so much to you. Most of the candidates that think about changing their department do so citing the placement statistics of the previous years. While not the best way to make that decision, we don’t discourage you from going down that road. But what we certainly encourage you to do is to understand that now that you are on campus, you have the opportunity to talk to a wide variety of seniors, all of whom are working in various different fields. In doing so, you enable yourself to make an informed decision of what you want to do, at least for the next few years, if not eternity.

Citing the fact that a number of students look forward to the process, the rules and regulations for the same were considerably relaxed last year. Owing to this, the students now enjoy a much better chance to change their branch than they did prior to 2018. The following diagram shows the number of students that successfully changed their branch last year:


Adopting a Holistic Approach

Contrary to popular belief, being a traditional “ghissu” is not the key to changing your branch. For most of it, it is a journey in parallel to the one you embarked on when preparing for JEE but also a lot different in terms of the opportunity cost and final outcome.

Most candidates who give their everything towards the idea of a branch change often make the same mistakes, the most major of them all being never actually stepping out of their rooms to explore what the campus has to offer. This decision either comes back to haunt them if they fail or becomes something that just falls into the pit of buried regrets if they are successful.

Adopting a holistic approach in getting through your time on campus is probably the best thing that you can do regardless of what your aspirations are. Devote yourself to your studies, the idea being to give your best but not to be bogged down if you’re unable to do so (this is where relative grading is most helpful). At the same time, don’t disregard all the talks and lectures that the institute and the various campus groups organize.

The key is to manage your time exceptionally well and also to be persistent with your efforts towards the final goal (see the similarities yet?).

How tough is it?

To put things into perspective, we now follow up with a diagram based on last year’s statistics. The numbers provided here are just to give the viewer an idea of what he/she needs to do in order to secure a branch change. It is important to note that these numbers do not form a standard basis and change each year according to the preferences of the candidates that year.

As mentioned earlier, the rules for this procedure have been considerably relaxed, but the entry into the “much coveted” circuit branches(CSE, ECE, and EE) remains an uphill task. The required SGPA last year was as follows:

  Opening Rank Closing Rank
CSE 9.905 9.81
ECE 9.81 9.619
EE 9.571 9.333
MSM 9.524 9.381
ME 9.333 9.143
CH 9.048 8.381
EPH 8.857 8.286
IN 8.571 8.286
CE 8.19 8
MT 8.095 8.095
GPT 7.81 7.476
BT 7.667 6.762
PSE 7.286 7
GT 7.286 7.286

Final Word of Advice

The truth is that changing your branch is by no means easy, but consistency and persistence go a long way in getting you what you want. It is important to remember that your college isn’t just here to provide you with quality education; being an IITian is a lot more than that. It’s about modeling yourself into a better individual, something that is only possible if you step out of your room and your comfort zones to experience the journey that is IIT-Roorkee. So although putting a semester into something that draws you as much as the idea of a branch change (and we know it does), it wouldn’t be the worst idea to allow yourself to indulge in the little joys of campus life as well.

Hear it from them

Yash Jain, 2nd Year, Branch Changer from PSE TO ECE

“Be consistent in attending the lectures and tutorials of all the courses. Even if professors seem as though they are just going through the slides, there will always be added clarification and insights that you can discover in the lecture. Solving the tutorials on your own is important to be able to solve new questions that may be framed by the professor for MTE and ETE. Sometimes, the CWS component can make a huge difference in the grade point of a course, so don’t take it lightly. Also, do take out time for some fun activities to refresh your mind, or else you may burn out early during the semester.

Some people think that not participating in extracurricular activities might increase their chance of branch change as they would be able to give extra time for their studies, but this is not true. If you pay attention in class, you can cut your study time later on, and you will have enough time for activities other than academics, which are essential for your skills and overall development.”

Prabhat Tiwari, 2nd Year, Branch Changer from CHEM TO EE

“Being consistent is one of the major keys to branch change. Just try to be on the same page with professors. Complete the tutorials on your own. Focus more on the subjects with higher credits.

Follow professors’ advice religiously and try to be in good books of the teaching assistant. Also, don’t study all day for branch change; qualitative study and being regular will be enough. And try to explore other fields apart from the course.”

Akshat Gupta, 2nd Year, Branch Changer from ME TO ECE
“Every subject requires a different strategy. Some require cramming, while others require practice. Model your preparation based on that. If you are not good at something, work on it. The syllabus isn’t that vast, and you will have plenty of time. Branch change isn’t difficult, just that people seem to “hype it up” a bit too much.

Just remain disciplined and not lose motivation. A lot of people seem to lose that as the semester progresses, which is quite understandable. But still, some small efforts over the course of the semester is enough. The tutorials and assignments will do most of the job. Rest is all some cramming and some practice and well, maybe some luck. Perhaps everyone needs that.”

Sarthak Sharma, 2nd Year, Branch Changer from GPT TO ME
“I think that a freshman should not go for branch change just for the sake of it. They have the opportunity and connections for finding out what career implications are attached to each branch. Then they should select what exactly they want rather than going for the apparently lucrative choices.

Branch change is not tough. It just requires you to do follow through with regular class materials and tutorials.

I think, for me, regularly attending the classes and tutorials was of prime importance as it makes one acquainted with what kind of questions you can expect in the exams. Also, solving previous year’s question papers can give you a major edge over others.”

Pranav Saxena, 2nd Year, Branch Changer from CHEM TO CSE
“Try to attend all of your lectures, make notes, and attempt all tutorials on your own. Going through the books referred to by the professor is always beneficial. While all of this helps, remember that self-study and consistency are the two main ingredients that will make or break your chances to change your branch.

A lot of people think that only people who study all day long manage to get their branch changed, this is not true. I would suggest not to overexert yourself. Try to maintain a balance between studying and exploring new stuff. You have just emerged from an extended JEE prep, so try to relax a bit! Changing your branch doesn’t require you to slag all day long; all you need to do is be consistent. Attend your classes, make a good set of notes to revise from, and just set aside some time each day to go over them. Meanwhile, play games, read a book, paint, or do whatever you find interesting! A lot of people start the semester with great enthusiasm, but often that enthusiasm to work hard and change your branch often fades till the end. Don’t let this happen to you. Think of branch change as a marathon, not as a race.

The most crucial step on my journey to change my branch was to realize that simply going to the lectures is not enough. I realized this during my midsems, up to which point I thought that since I attend classes, I would be able to prepare well in a few days. Well, suffice it to say that midsems were a rude awakening, and I didn’t score as well in them as I would have liked to. After that, I focused more on self-study and tried to be more consistent, instead of leaving everything up until a few days before the exams. This realization was the primary reason why my endsems went well, and I was able to change my branch.”