A section of aspirants and teachers claimed that several answers in the provisional answer key for the common university entrance test (CUET-UG) released by the National Testing Agency were incorrect and the agency was "robbing" the students who wanted to challenge it by charging them Rs 200 per question.
When asked about the allegations, University Grants Commission Chairman Jagadesh Kumar said the the National Testing Agency (NTA) has received feedback about certain answers being incorrect and it can be due to “typographical errors”.
He also said the aspirants can "email to the NTA directly without paying the fees and in case of valid feedback, they will be considered".
The NTA will release another provisional answer key within two days, he said.
On June 29, the NTA released the provisional answer key for the Common University Entrance Test or CUET (UG) 2023. Candidates can raise objections against the answer key till 11:30 pm on July 1 and are required to pay Rs 200 per question for which they have filed a challenge.
However, some students and teachers claimed that charging the fee was unfair. They claimed that "answers to even basic questions were given wrong" in the answer key and, given the inaccuracies, a revised answer key should be issued before inviting objections.
"In one of the papers, I found seven answers incorrect, now if I want to challenge them I would need Rs 1,400. I don't have this much money," aspirant Umang Sharma said.
Many also said that the whole procedure of filing objections is very complicated.
Satyapriya Pandey, whose daughter gave CUET UG, said that 40 questions were wrongly answered in the key for the Hindi test, "The answer key of Hindi is completely wrong. What to do? I am not able to understand anything. The process to challenge it is also very complicated," Pandey said.
Ashish Singh claimed that in General Test Paper (Shift 3) conducted on May 30, the answers to 10 questions were wrong in the answer key.
"One of the questions was on for the full form of CNG. The answer in the answer key is something else and not Compressed Natural Gas. How could they give answers to such basic questions wrong? They should release an updated answer key," he said.
Another aspirant took to Twitter to vent his resentment.
"I have 5-6 questions correct in my test but it is showing wrong according to the provisional answer key(it is about only one subject), and the cost for challenging 1 question is 200. What a good way of robbing students," Amit Kumar tweeted.
In the Political Science test in the third shift of June 6, a question was asked about the founder of the Indian National Army. The answer is Bhagat Singh as per the NTA answer key while the correct answer is Subhas Chandra Bose given in the options, DU assistant professor and former Academic Council member Samrendra Kumar said, citing mistakes in the answer key.
"If someone wants to challenge this wrong answer, then first he has to deposit Rs 200 then NTA will correct it. This is not only daylight loot of parents' money but also an injustice to the students," said Kumar. When asked about the allegation that students were being unfairly charged, UGC Chairman Jagadesh Kumar said there is no truth in it.
“The money collected is used to pay an honorarium to a large number of experts who examine the key responses. NTA operates on a no profit no loss basis,” he told PTI.
DU assistant professor Samrendra Kumar questioned why students have to pay the price for the NTA's mistake.
"The answer about the European Union was wrong. The NTA answer key mentions Paris as the headquarters of the European Union, while the correct answer is Brussels," he said.
"After the test, the students will have to pay thousands to NTA to justify their correct answers, only then they will be able to get the marks for their correct answers," he said.
"That means the students will compensate for the mistake of NTA. If this is not blatant robbery, then what is it.... First, they should correct all the answers themselves and then ask for the challenge by releasing the answer key," he added.
The CUET-UG is the second-largest entrance exam in the country in terms of the number of applicants. In its first edition, 12.5 lakh students had registered for the exam and 9.9 lakh had submitted their applications.
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