Perspective Education

Why a transparent evaluation system is important for entrance exams

Strict rules and strict implementation will help root out malpractices.   | Photo Credit: M. Karunakaran

Aspersions, whether genuine or not, have been cast on the evaluation system of NEET 2020. To convince the public of the credibility of this system, the National Testing Agency (NTA) should explain its process of evaluation, with its built-in checks and so on.

One of the assets of Anna University (AU) is its entrance exam system, which was at its peak in the later half of 1990s. Though admission for all courses of AU was done through appropriate entrance exams, the Tamil Nadu Professional Courses Entrance Exam (TNPCEE) — designed by the then Vice Chancellor Dr. V.C. Kulandaisamy at the behest of the then Chief Minisiter M.G. Ramachandran — at the +2 level was the most conspicuous. Introduced in 1984, it had one paper each for engineering, medicine and agriculture. From the next year, the exam consisted of one paper each in math, biology, physics and chemistry (with general knowledge).

Changes introduced

From 1995, the third paper was renamed physical sciences, as there was some confusion about whether it was one paper or two. Other changes included shifting of exam dates to April from June (resulting in sudden spurt in the number of candidates), introduction of ‘jumbled versions’ of question papers (without informing the candidate which version he/she was handling, and in which answers were also jumbled in later years), OMR response sheets and revised computerised evaluation.

All these features helped the entire process to be carried out with precision. To ensure an error-free system, two percent of the answer sheet were randomly chosen after the computerised evaluation. These were then manually manually evaluated by a team of senior faculty members and compared with the result given by the computer. From 1994 to 2000, the years I was in charge of the entrance exams and admissions unit, there was no mismatch. The public were also aware of this policy and therefore had full faith in the system. If the NTA has any such built-in checks in its evaluation process, it would be a good idea to reveal it so that people can be convinced.

Beating the system

One might wonder if any malpractice is still possible. While copying is eliminated, interchange of response sheets was done at least once during my tenure. A candidate interchanged his response sheets in biology and physical sciences with that of two other candidates. He befriended a student in the same hall, noted down his name, registration number and signature and used those in his exam sheet. The hall superintendent failed to check the response sheet against the hall ticket. He had handed over his response sheets and, when the papers were being arranged, rushed to the superintendent and pleaded to be allowed to correct a mistake in his particulars. When the superintendent obliged, he picked out the other student’s sheet and changed the particulars to his own. When this came to light, his admission to a BDS course was cancelled and it was also discovered that he had used the same modus operandi in his Class 12 board exam as well. Those results were also cancelled.

After this happened, I introduced another guideline for the entrance exams officials that once the candidate hands over the response sheet, it cannot be given back to him/her for any reason. This is only to show that interchange of response sheets is also possible if rules are not strict or not implemented strictly.

The writer is a former Professor and Head, Entrance Exams and Admission, Anna University, Chennai

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2020 2:28:00 PM |

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