Candidates of the combined PhD enrolment test for new Central universities had a disappointing beginning on Sunday as the question paper had several howlers, according to candidates who appeared in the Central Universities Common Entrance Test (CUCET)-2013 (Research Programme).

A question on Prasar Bharati Bill ended up testing candidates on what the examiner called the Akash Bharati Bill. The question was “Which year was the Akash Bharati Bill tabled in the Lok Sabha?”

Another question on the national news agency, the Press Trust of India’s (PTI) Hindi language arm erroneously named it UNIvarta which actually is the Hindi language arm of its rival news agency UNI. The question was: “When did the news agency PTI start its Hindi wing UNIvarta?” The answer gave four options.

On soap operas too

And then were puerile queries, some relating to soap operas that had garnered eyeballs but very little critical acclaim. One question sought to test potential students for doctorate degrees to identify which channel ran the “Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’’ serial and which telecast the serial “Mowgli”.

There were similar howlers, which left candidates confused, according to a student who preferred to remain anonymous for the fear of being identified during viva voce for defending the research proposal and its synopsis.

Carelessness in setting questions is apparent at other places as well. Noted journalist B.G. Verghese was referred to as G.G. Verghese. In multiple choice questions, options were repeated in the same answer.

Things were difficult for candidates who had opted for online examination as there was no way of pointing out errors in the questions or answers, leaving them wondering how marks would be awarded for wrong questions. There were 100 multiple choice questions in two parts. The first part was on general knowledge and the second part was subject-specific.

“The quality of questions was so bad that I don’t think I can make it. I would have sailed through had there been queries on serious and socially relevant topics. In fact, with these kind of questions, I don’t think I would have been very happy to pass this exam,” rued a candidate.

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