Varying degrees of difficulty, refusal to normalise scores that denied a level playing field, "ambiguous" questions with more than one correct answer but marks awarded for only one option, wrong calculation of marks — hundreds of students have raised a litany of complaints in connection with the second edition of the Common University Entrance Test-Postgraduation (CUET-PG).
Most central universities now admit students on the basis of their score in CUET-PG, conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) on behalf of the University Grants Commission.
Students have written to the NTA about their grievances but it has not responded yet. The students are worried they will lose out on admission to top central institutions like Jawaharlal Nehru University and Delhi University.
The NTA held the test in two phases, the first from June 5 to 17 and the second from June 22 to July 6.
Six students, who spoke to The Telegraph on the condition of anonymity, said the NTA had initially planned to hold single-session exams for English and political science, respectively. However, the agency had to hold the tests on two dates each because of its failure to send admit cards to all candidates on time, the students said.
In its information bulletin, the students said, the NTA had stated that since the candidates would be given different sets of questions with the possibility of varying degrees of difficulty, a normalisation procedure based on percentile score would be released.
Normalisation — in which the percentile for each candidate is calculated using the raw marks of the candidate as compared to the raw marks of others in the same session — is an established practice to provide a level playing field.
However, the NTA released only the raw scores of students in all the subjects without carrying out any normalisation, they said.
“The political science and English question papers in the second phase were easier than those in the first phase. We have shown both papers of the two subjects to subject experts, who agreed that there were varying levels of difficulty,” a student said.
She said the students had done a sample survey of about 1,500 candidates who appeared in both subjects across the two phases. The average score in political science and the general paper for a candidate in phase I came to around 200 while it was around 240 for a phase-II student with the same combination, she added.
The same pattern was found in the English papers too, the student said.
A candidate who appeared for the political science paper said some of the questions had more than one correct answer, but the NTA awarded marks for only one option.
For example, a question in political science phase-I went: Equality of opportunity means. 1. Everybody is equal before law; 2. An equal opportunity to become unequal; 3. Everybody has equal opportunity; and 4. Everybody has equal talents and skills.
The provision answer keys released by the NTA, based on which the final answer keys are prepared for marking, identified option 2 as the correct answer. Several students challenged it saying option 3 was also correct. But the final answer key maintained option 2 to be the correct answer.
“'Everybody has equal opportunity' means the same as equality of opportunity. Under no circumstances can this answer be rejected. The NTA should have awarded marks to all since option 2 and option 3 are both correct. But the NTA did not award marks to students ticking option 3,” another student said.
A candidate who took the English exam said there were 21 ambiguous questions in the first-phase paper. The NTA accepted only seven questions to be ambiguous.
“Apart from ambiguity, there have been unexplained errors in the calculation of scores. The actual marks received and the calculation done by students on the basis of the final answer keys do not match for many,” the student said.
Several students are planning to move court.