September 30, 2022

MCQ used for a long time, no complaints

Twelve central universities have taken the Central University Common Entrance Test (CUCET, now known as CUET) with multiple-choice questions (or MCQs) for more than a decade, and none have reported any quality issues of admitted students, said UGC President M Jagadesh. Kumar said Wednesday.

Talk with The Indian Express Regarding the recent criticism of CUET’s MCQ format, Kumar said that 12 central universities have been conducting admissions through CUCET since 2010, using MCQ-like questions based on the two-part OMR.

“Part A tests language, general awareness, mathematical aptitude and analytical skills, and part B tests domain knowledge,” he said. “The CUCET was conducted in all disciplines for the UG and PG programs. In 2021, the NTA (National Testing Agency) conducted CUCET for these 12 universities in the form of a computerized MCQ test. Since 2022, they have all joined the rest of the Central Universities in adopting CUET for both UG and PG programs.

He said: “Carrying out MCQ-based tests in different disciplines is not new. These entrance tests are more than ten years old in many central universities. None of them reported any problem related to the quality of admitted students.

During a recent brainstorming session with The Indian ExpressJNU Vice Chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit had expressed concern that CUET’s MCQ format for PG admissions would impact the quality of student admission.

She had said: “In Masters (programme), you cannot have admissions based on MCQs because we do not even know if the student can write anything… There should be qualitative answers and tests of other abilities rather than rote memory… Many of them may not understand language and have communication problems.

Kumar said there was no “ideal entrance test”, but machine-driven assessment was the best possible option for maintaining objectivity in large-scale testing.

“The academic debate about the relevance of MCQ-like questions in entrance tests for admissions is very old,” said the UGC president. “There is no such thing as an ideal entrance test. When a small number of students take a test, short or long written answers are fine. Response scripts can be checked and rechecked for consistency.

“However, now the number of students taking these tests is significant – it is close to 1.5 million and in the coming years it will grow into several million. Under these circumstances, the need to bring objectivity in the admissions process and making it free from bias and discrimination is very high.”

Admissions have become “very competitive and we cannot let human inability to be neutral due to fatigue affect grading,” Kumar said.

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