Expert Gaurav Tyagi answers
Expert Gaurav Tyagi answers(Pic: EdexLive Desk + Gaurav Tyagi)

NEET PG FAQ: Double shifts, normalisation of scores, ranks — medical expert Gaurav Tyagi answers

The news that the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test - Postgraduate (NEET-PG) would be conducted in two shifts sent waves of worry across the medical community of students. Hence, we reached out to Gaurav Tyagi from Career Xpert, who is an authority on medical and NEET, who has shed some insight on the matters in great detail

Why is NEET PG 2024 being conducted in two shifts?


The NEET PG 2024 exam will be administered in two shifts to accommodate a larger number of applicants and decreasing the pressure on exam centres. This decision came after the exam was delayed from its intended date of June 23, 2024, following claims of anomalies in competitive examinations.

The two shifts will contribute to the exam's integrity and seamless operation, ensuring that all candidates have an equal opportunity. On August 11, 2024, the morning shift will run from 10 am to 1 pm, followed by the afternoon shift from 2.30 pm to 5.30 pm


What is the purpose of normalisation in NEET PG?


Normalisation in NEET PG is a technique that ensures justice and equity in scoring because the exam is held in multiple shifts and sessions. It aids in adjusting the difficulty level of questions across different sessions, allowing candidates to be evaluated on an equal playing field.

Normalisation accounts for the relative difficulty of questions as well as candidate performance in each session, ensuring that results are not influenced by the complexity of the question paper.

This technique helps to provide a more realistic depiction of a candidate's knowledge and skills, allowing for a more equitable selection process.


How does the normalisation process work?


To adjust scores in NEET PG, a statistical procedure known as "equipercentile equating" is used. It includes:

1. Determine a common set of questions for all sessions.

2. Determining the difficulty level of each question based on the candidate performance.

3. Giving each candidate a normalised score based on how they performed on the common questions.

4. Adjusting candidates' scores from separate sessions to maintain equality.

5. Calculating the final percentile score, which measures a candidate's performance in comparison to others.

This procedure ensures that candidates are judged on an equal playing field, regardless of which session they participated in.


Will there be percentile-based ranking or absolute normalisation?


NEET PG ranks students based on percentiles rather than absolute normalisation. Candidates are graded based on their relative performance, with the top candidate scoring 100th percentile and the rest scoring appropriately.

The cut-off is set at the 50th percentile for general category applicants and the 40th percentile for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes/Other Backward Classes (SC/ST/OBC) candidates.

This means that in order to qualify, candidates must outperform a specific proportion of test takers rather than get a fixed absolute score.

Percentile-based ranking helps to account for variances in difficulty and guarantees a fair selection process. It also enables a more sophisticated assessment of candidate performance.


What if the exam pattern varies between shifts?


If the exam pattern changes between shifts in NEET PG, a specified normalisation ratio is used to maintain fairness. This technique accounts for differences in difficulty level, allowing applicants to be evaluated on an equal playing field.

The normalisation ratio is generated based on candidate performance throughout both shifts and applied to raw scores. This guarantees that the scores are not skewed towards one shift over the other, and candidates are evaluated based on their relative performance.

The method is intended to ensure that the exam is fair and unbiased, regardless of any differences in the exam pattern.


How can we ensure fairness in ranking when the exam is split into different slots?


To ensure fair ranking when the NEET PG test is split into different slots, the following methods can be taken:

- Equating: Ensure that the difficulty of the questions is consistent across all slots.

- Normalisation: Adjust scores to account for differences in difficulty level.

- Standardisation: Implement a consistent marking scheme and grading standards.

- Randomisation: To reduce prejudice, randomly assign questions to candidates.

- Statistical analysis: Monitor and analyse the findings to identify any biases or anomalies.

By using these metrics, ranking can be made more fair, and applicants can be ranked based on their genuine abilities rather than the position they appeared in.


What factors influence the difficulty level of different shifts?


Several factors can affect the difficulty level of different shifts in the NEET PG exam:

1. Question paper structure: Different question papers may have varying degrees of difficulty.

2. Topic distribution: One shifts may include more questions on difficult themes.

3. Question type: One shift may have more complex or difficult questions.

4. Marking scheme: Various marking methods may be utilised between shifts.

5. Testing conditions: Environmental elements such as temperature, lighting, and technical difficulties can all have an impact on test performance.

6. Candidate demographics: Candidates on different shifts may differ in terms of preparation or expertise.

These factors can all lead to differences in difficulty level, making normalisation necessary to maintain fairness.


How will NBEMS handle discrepancies in question quality between shifts?


NBEMS (National Board of Examinations in Medical Sciences) manages variations in question quality between shifts using a rigorous quality control process:

1. Expert assessment: Subject matter experts analyse the questions to guarantee their quality and consistency.

2. Pilot testing: Questions are pilot-tested to discover and eliminate unclear or incorrect questions.

3. Statistical analysis: Performance data is examined to identify anomalies or biases.

4. Normalisation: Scores are modified to reflect any differences in question difficulty or quality.

5. Equating: Questions are equated to ensure that difficulty levels are consistent throughout shifts.

This approach ensures that candidates are evaluated fairly, regardless of the shift they appear in.


What if a candidate faces technical issues during their shift?


If a candidate experiences technical difficulties during their shift, NBEMS has a contingency plan in place:

1. Immediate assistance: Technical support teams are ready to quickly resolve issues.

2. Alternative arrangements: Candidates may be moved to a different computer or exam centre if possible.

3. Extra time: If the issue is fixed, candidates may be given additional time to complete the exam.

4. Special consideration: In extreme instances, candidates may be allowed to retake the exam in a later shift or session.

5. Grievance redressal: Candidates can report technical concerns, and NBEMS will investigate and respond appropriately.


Is there a specific formula for normalisation?


Yes, NBEMS applies a specific formula for normalisation in NEET-PG:

To calculate the normalised score, divide the candidate's score by the shift's standard deviation and multiply by 100 + 50.

This formula changes the candidate's score depending on the mean and standard deviation of the shift in which they occurred, ensuring that the scores are normalised to the same scale.

The resulting normalised score is used to calculate the candidate's percentile rank and admission eligibility. This formula helps to reduce bias caused by differences in difficulty level or question paper composition between shifts.


Are there any other concerns with the two-shift patter that students or even experts might have?


Yes, aside from normalisation, other difficulties with the two-shift schedule include:

- Question paper equivalence: Ensure that both shifts have questions that are equally challenging and relevant.

- Test-taking circumstances: Maintaining same ambient conditions, such as temperature and lighting, across both shifts.

- Security and cheating: Preventing cheating and preserving the exam's integrity across both shifts.

- Candidate tiredness: Examining how fatigue affects candidate performance on the second shift.

- Logistics and infrastructure: Providing enough infrastructure and resources for both shifts.

Experts and students may be concerned about potential biases in the exam design, scoring, and ranking systems.