In other words, just 15 IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology), 30 NITs (National Institutes of Technology), 4 IIITs (Indian Institutes of Information Technology), IISERs (Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research) and a few deemed universities will fall under its ambit.
Currently, there are 15 lakh engineering colleges across the country and more than 150 entrance tests are conducted for admission to these institutes.
The HRD ministry has held three meetings since last September to work on the final format of the examination, which will be jointly conducted by the IITs and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).
But Sibal and his ministry are tightlipped about the details. "We are working on it and an announcement will be made in February," the minister said.
However, those who attended the last meeting have told Mail Today that the examination, in its first year, will probably be meant for engineering programmes of only central institutions.
"All our discussions till now have been mainly pertaining to the IITs, NITs, IIITs and centrally funded institutes. The test for the first year will probably just cover them or be a merger of the IIT-JEE and the AIEEE," an official who was present at the last meeting, held over a week ago, said on the condition of anonymity.
The rationale behind the common entrance exam for engineering is to reduce psychological and financial stress on students because of multiple entrance tests and give more importance to Class XII results than private coaching.
"A student's class XII Boards results will be taken into account at the time of admission," Sibal had said about the test in September last year.
Currently, apart from the joint entrance examination conducted by the IITs and the AIEEE conducted by the CBSE, all the states have their own engineering examinations. Many deemed universities and private institutes also hold their own tests.
"Whether the states will join the common test in the first year has not been discussed. I guess the idea is to first introduce the exam with the central institutes on board and then have the state governments and private players join it eventually," said the official.
The HRD ministry is likely to get the states on board before a formal notification on the test is issued next month.
"A meeting is scheduled with all state education ministers on February 15. We will try to get them on board. We are hoping that at least the seven states that subscribe to the AIEEE score will join the common entrance test," an HRD ministry source said.