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CUET: New kid on the block

If you are planning to take the Common University Entrance Test, here’s all that you want to know

Nina Mukherji Published 14.03.23, 03:09 AM
Representational image

Representational image Shutterstock

The CUET or Common University Entrance Test was introduced in 2022 to combat high cut-offs, equalise marks from the different boards, and save students from appearing for multiple examinations. Around 80 universities participated in the test last year. This year many state and private universities have also been added to the list, and the number has increased to around 168 institutes. The test is conducted in 13 languages ensuring that students studying the vernacular language at the senior secondary level can attempt it comfortably.

Last year, students faced several issues with last-minute changes to test centres and timings, lack of clarity on the exam pattern, technical glitches, and uncertainty over when the admission process would end and when the academic year begins. Some of these issues could be attributed to teething troubles of a recently introduced system but some led to bigger problems.


Zaara Sharma, a Class XII student from a CBSE school in Delhi, scored 97 per cent in the board exam. However, she was disappointed to learn that her marks would have no weightage and only the CUET would be considered for admission into central universities. Sharma applied for courses in political science, sociology, psychology, journalism and business management to universities under CUET and a few private universities too. She says, “I missed applying to Jamia Millia Islamia and Jawaharlal Nehru University as I thought they would come under CUET. I realised too late that there was a separate admission process for most of the programmes in these two universities.”

She was given a slot on August 5, 2022, in the second session. As she tells it, it was a bit chaotic, and the test centre was overcrowded. After waiting for four hours, the examinees were told that the test was cancelled and postponed to a future date. Sharma was worried as private universities and other colleges were starting their programmes by the second week of August. So she joined a private college but returned to Delhi to take the test on the rescheduled date — August 25. The results came out two months later, and she got sociology at Sri Venkateshwara College, Delhi University, in the first list, which she took up.

Saumya Rathore, a student of Bhavan Vidyalaya, Chandigarh, wrote CUET in the first phase in July. “I wanted either history or political science and appeared for the domain subjects legal studies, political science, history and English.” When the results were finally out, she got history in the first list of Delhi’s Lady Shri Ram College for Women (LSR). But she had already settled into college, “It was a difficult choice. But I had settled in at Shiv Nadar and liked my course here — bachelor of international relations. So, I decided to let go of LSR,” Rathore says.

Some feel that college admissions need to be more holistic and question whether a test like CUET will evaluate a student’s aptitude and academic potential. Abha Dev Habib, associate professor at Miranda House, says, “Basing college admissions only on CUET is not a good idea as it does not provide a continuous evaluation of a student’s performance. Introducing CUET will not resolve the key issues of education.”

Other educationists feel that it is a step in the right direction and the test will evolve, and many issues will be resolved in time. Seema Sapru who is principal of The Heritage School, Calcutta, says, “I think it is an excellent programme. It is more convenient to have a single test which is transparent instead of writing multiple tests for different colleges.” She believes a multiple-choice question (MCQ) test is no hindrance but a good way to evaluate a student’s knowledge and conceptual understanding of a subject. She says, “These MCQ tests are designed scientifically and one must have a deep knowledge and understanding of their subject matter to do well in them.”

Steps have been taken by the National Testing Agency (NTA) this year to improve the experience of the exam and the conditions surrounding it. They have increased the number of exam slots and centres in each location. The exam pattern has also been revised, and subject choices have been increased. It was also announced that students will get 15–20 minutes extra for subjects like mathematics and accountancy. This was in response to grievances raised by CUET candidates last year that they were not able to complete the papers where calculations were involved.

The CUET tests a student’s domain knowledge, general awareness, language skills, and problem-solving and analytical abilities through its different sections (domain-specific subjects, languages and the general test). As for whether it is good or bad, one can discuss it ad nauseum. But fact is, it is here to stay for now.


  • Mode of exam: Computer- based test
  • Duration Slot 1: 45 mins to 195 mins Slot 2: 45 mins to 225 mins Slot 3: To be notified
  • Sections: Language, domain specific test and general test
  • Type of questions: Multiple choice n Exam level: Should have completed Class XII n Marking scheme: Correct answer 5, wrong answer minus 1, unanswered none
  • Medium/ Language: 13 languages n Maximum number of tests a student can take: 10
  • General test components: logical and analytical reasoning, general mental ability, general knowledge, quantitative reasoning, current affairs and numerical ability
  • Last date to apply: March 30, 2023
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