Common University Entrance Test (CUET) evokes mixed response from students

With all its promises about giving students an equal footing, CUET still gives an edge to CBSE students since the syllabus for the exam has been tailored from NCERT books

Common University Entrance Test (CUET) evokes mixed response from students

Garima Sadhwani

The Common University Entrance Test (CUET), being conducted by the National Testing Agency, has created considerable confusion among students who had initially welcomed it. Instead of applying for each university separately and appearing for different tests, a common entrance test, they hoped, would make life easier. Separate entrance tests would have been costlier too, feels Parth Tripathi.

The cut-off marks in institutions like Delhi University, felt Khushi, was arbitrary and discriminatory. “Several state boards in the past would cancel papers and award marks arbitrarily to the examinees, giving them an edge over others." With a syllabus prescribed by the NTA, it was easier to prepare, she felt.

While those performing poorly in Board exams get an opportunity to do better in CUET, Radhika Sharma, who appeared in two Board exams in 2021-22 admits that CUET has added to pressure.

“The CBSE Board would often award 100 marks in English, while the ICSE Board never awards 100 in English, no matter how good the answers are. So, cutoffs were discriminatory for ICSE and state board students,” agrees Zoya from Bihar.

But CUET gives an edge to CBSE students since the syllabus for the exam has been taken from NCERT books, which are the course books mandated by the CBSE board, she points out. “What CBSE students studied in a year, we ICSE students have just one month to master it. We studied modern and world history in ICSE while CBSE students studied ancient Indian history,” says Zoya.

They all agree though that the first entrance test has been badly managed. CUET implementation left much to be desired. Admit Cards did not have key details like the examination centre’s name, address and reporting time, says Tripathi. “The city is mentioned but ominously it was also mentioned that the exam centre could change,” he recalls. It added to the anxiety because the Admit Cards were made available at midnight before the test.

Till 11th July, many students did not know they would have to sit for the test within a week. “Some students have their exams in July, some in August for the same subjects, which is unfair because those who appear in August will have an unfair advantage to prepare,” says Zoya. It is still not known when the college admissions will begin. “All the experiments are happening with our batch so our parents are even more anxious,” conceded many of them.

Nitiksha Tyagi, who’s taking CUET for postgraduate courses, thinks NTA should have made sure not to inconvenience students. She says while syllabus has been specified for the UG courses, no such thing has been done for the PG courses. There are no sample papers either. It might be better structurally since students have to invest time and energy to prepare only for one paper, they don’t need to spend time researching about each college separately, and they don’t run the risk of missing any paper due to overlapping tests, but it surely could have been simpler?

Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Samiti member Aftab Alam feels that just like cutoffs, an entrance exam too will be excluding a lot of deserving students. It is playing into the hands of coaching centres, he felt. To save examinees some anxiety, he is setting up a help desk for students and is planning to provide them with mock exam and study material for CUET.

(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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