NEET UG grace marks: NTA cities CLAT court order for NEET exam? Scholar & expert explains why this doesn't work

The NTA has allotted grace marks based on a normalisation formula given by the Supreme Court to compensate for the loss of time in CLAT, 2018
Debunking NTA's clarification
Debunking NTA's clarification(Pic: EdexLive Desk)

In response to concerns regarding discrepancies between marks and ranks in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Exam for Undergraduate Admissions, 2024 (NEET UG 2024), the National Testing Agency (NTA) issued a clarification on Wednesday, June 5, claiming that it was due to the allocation of grace marks.

The NTA says that these grace marks have been allotted based on the normalisation formula given by the Supreme Court in a judgment dated June 13, 2018, to compensate for the loss of time faced by candidates during the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT). 

The agency added that this decision was taken after receiving “representations and Court Cases” from candidates who raised concerns about the loss of time during the examination. 

The normalisation formula that the NTA claimed to have used was given by a Supreme Court bench comprised of Justices Deepak Gupta and UU Lalit on the case “Disha Panchal vs Union Of India The Secretary”, which was concerning the loss of time in the Common Law Admission Test in 2018, due to technical and administerial lapses. 

However, several medical aspirants, netizens, and experts alike have criticised the NTA for this step and called into question the basis for the usage of the formula. 

Sulochana, a PhD scholar of Science Education with a focus on NEET from the Homi Bhabha Centre For Science Education, in particular, took to X and stated that this specific revelation of the NTA still lacked transparency, and was a cause for confusion among students.

Speaking to EdexLive, she says that it was not possible to apply the formula, which was designed for CLAT

“CLAT is an online exam, wherein, the time that a student spends attempting the exam is recorded precisely to the second. Any distractions or loss of time can be captured, and the formula compensates for them. This is not possible in NEET, an offline exam,” she explains.  

She further states that the NTA’s claim of determining the time lost through the examination of CCTV footage is not the right move, as it becomes difficult to standardise the normalisation process throughout the exam, or accurately record the time lost by the candidate. 

“The 2018 judgement acknowledges several reasons that led to the loss in time, and directs that compensatory marks be given as per the system data and recorded time,” she says. 

In the judgement, several factors, including login failures, unhelpful invigilators, questions not being visible, power failure and absence of UPS, and frequent changes of machines were accounted for as responsible for the loss of time. 

As per the formula, the normalised scores are calculated based on the success rate of the candidate in answering the questions in the given time. 

Careless implementation of normalisation

Sulochana further adds that it does not make sense to normalise the marks in an objective-type exam such as NEET. 

“In subjective-type tests, you tend to lose marks for the most innocuous of reasons, like your handwriting, for example. Such sources of variations are averted in the case with objective-type exams, where the answers are a yes or no (right or wrong).” she explains.

Further, normalising marks for NEET based on the loss of time defeats the purpose of the design of the exam, she says. 

“Getting the answers right is not the only point that matters in NEET. Time management is also a factor that affects your performance,” she explains, adding that candidates who can manage their time better have an edge over others who have the same amount of knowledge.

In such a situation, ascertaining the time lost through CCTV footage, and then using the formula to compensate for this time would only cause more problems, as the time lost is not calculated accurately. 

“This is why we could see the discrepancies between marks and ranks, and as many as 67 students scoring AIR 1,” she says. 

Further, she adds that a difference of even one mark could result in a drastic difference in ranks in highly competitive exams like NEET, resulting in students not being able to get into good medical colleges, or medical colleges at all.

Sulochana adds that the NTA also allotted grace marks in a very arbitrary manner. 

“The 2018 judgement called for a portal and an email ID to be set up for students to raise concerns and lodge complaints about the CLAT exam. The NTA provided no such grievance mechanism. Thus, it is difficult to ascertain how many students the grace marks were awarded to, and on what basis,” she adds. 

In addition, no new seats were added in medical colleges, providing no relief to the students. 

“This is utter carelessness on the part of the NTA. In addition, it has also not explained how it implemented the normalisation formula in an offline exam,” she says, adding that this only casts aspersions on the transparency of the NTA.

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