NEET controversy brings transparency issues of FMGE to the fore

Many FMG associations have said that the NBEMS’s conduct of the exam is not very transparent, and there are concerns of malpractice or corruption behind the scenes
NEET controversy brings transparency issues of FMGE to the fore
The FMGE is scheduled to be held on July 6. Banner: EdexLive with Canva

With the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Exam - Undergraduate (NEET-UG) exam embroiled in controversy over allegations of paper leaks and mismanagement, and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare cancelling NEET PG 2024 on June 22, mere hours before the exam, there are probable doubts among aspirants of the Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE), 2024, that a similar fate would befall the exam this year. 


The FMGE, conducted by the National Board of Examinations in Medical Sciences (NBEMS), is a licensing examination for foreign medical candidates. The exam determines their eligibility to practice medicine in India and is conducted twice a year. The first session of the exam, originally supposed to be held in June, is scheduled to be held on July 6 this year. 


However, many aspirants expressed fear and anxiety about a second postponement of the exam and a possible compromise. 

Lack of transparency in FMGE

Many FMG associations have said that the NBEMS’s conduct of the exam is not very transparent, at least in comparison to the National Testing Agency's (NTA) conduct of NEET-UG. Perhaps, it is for this reason that there are concerns of malpractice or corruption behind the scenes. 


Explaining these worries, Andrews Matthews, President of the Foreign Medical Graduate Parents’ Association, says, “Unlike the NTA, the NBEMS does not release answer keys for either NEET PG or FMGE after the exam is concluded. Students do not have any way to check their answers. They would not know about their performance until the results are declared.” 


To add to that, candidates are not allowed to discuss the questions of the examination with each other, or anyone else, as stipulated by NBE rules. 


According to Rule 9.7 of the FMGE Information Bulletin, 2022, the FMGE is a “proprietary exam owned by the NBEMS”. As a result, candidates are prohibited from “reproducing, transmitting or publishing any or some contents of this exam, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means verbal or written, electronic or mechanical for any purpose whatsoever. NBEMS shall not entertain any request for sharing any content of the examination including answer keys/answer sheets.”


Moreover, the NBEMS mandates all candidates who register for the FMGE to agree to this Non-Disclosure Agreement. 


“Because of this secrecy, we cannot be sure if students truly scored the marks that appear in their results, as there is no way to cross-check,” Matthews says.

Moreover, he also points to the low pass rate of the FMGE of 22 per cent. "UG students are being asked PG-level questions. What is the basis of on which the question paper is set?", he questions.

“Because of these issues, it becomes very easy to hide corruption and tampering,” he says. 


A big worry of the association is that if the NEET UG had the number of discrepancies that it did this year, despite the NTA’s relative transparency,  there could be more in the FMGE and nobody would know about it. 

“This is why we have been demanding that the NBEMS make the FMGE more transparent, and start releasing answer keys for the exam, at the minimum,” says Matthews. 


He adds that even if it turned out that the NBEMS did not engage in malpractice, it would be for the better if the exams were conducted transparently, as the fear of corruption would be alleviated. 

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