UGC-NET is back to being conducted in CBT mode. What do candidates think about this move?

UGC-NET has been rescheduled for August-September; students worry about the extended interval, logistical issues, and the credibility of NTA
UGC-NET is back in CBT mode
UGC-NET is back in CBT mode(Pic: EdexLive Desk)

The University Grants Commission - National Eligibility Test (UGC - NET) held on June 18 was been cancelled and rescheduled.  

According to the revised schedule, announced by the National Testing Agency (NTA) on June 28, the exam will be held between August 21 and September 4, 2024.

The exam was cancelled due to concerns that the exam's integrity may have been compromised. Later, Union Minister of Education Dharmendra Pradhan revealed that the question paper had been leaked on the darknet and circulated on Telegram channels.

Following the event, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research - University Grants Commission National Eligibility Test (CSIR-UGC NET) was also postponed due to alleged logistical issues and unavoidable circumstances. A fresh date from July 25 to 27 has been announced for this test as well.

The only confirmed change for UGC NET is the mode of the exam. 

NTA has decided to employ the Computer Based Test (CBT) mode instead of the pen-and-paper OMR used previously on June 18. The exam took place in a single day with two shifts in 317 cities. And now, it will be conducted in multiple shifts over multiple days. Basically, NTA is resorting to conduct the exams as they used to be conducted before the June 2024 session.

Now, these exams will be conducted after a gap of over two months, which is a cause for concern for some students due to the extended interval as well as uncertainty about exam centres and the mode of exams.

Maheswar, a second-year Political Science student from the University of Hyderabad (UoH), mentioned that a few students who want to pursue a job or prepare for other exams will be in a difficult situation because they now have to wait for the re-exam results, and also consider the possibility of pursuing a PhD.

“So many students come from low-income families, after a master's degree, their family expects them to earn,” he added.

He was concerned about the extended duration of the exam. Previously, it was scheduled for just one day, but now it has been moved to take place over 14 days. "Our country is not yet ready, in terms of infrastructure, to conduct it in one day," he continued.

A few student organisations have been demanding the individual exam for PhD admission. Speaking on the issue, Abhishek Kumar, who appeared for the test this year, advocated for the centralised test. 

“Because of the centralised exam students from all parts and all classes can secure a PhD seat. Earlier, people who were close to the professors or people who had connections were more likely to be selected. There’s transparency in today's system,” he said.

Abhishek had a bad experience with the OMR mode of the test. He complained that using pen and paper (OMR) was time-consuming, and he couldn't attempt all the 150 questions within the given time frame. "I have appeared in many exams in both CBT and OMR modes, but the UGC-NET questions were too lengthy. Solving the questions and then marking the answers took a lot of time," he said.

Navneet Jha, a candidate who has completed his master's and plans to pursue a PhD, expressed concern about the exam centre allocation. He had previously taken the exam while at university, but now he is at home. He worries that if the NTA does not allow students to choose their exam city again, it could create significant problems for thousands of students like himself. 

"We're hopeful that they will open a window to select the exam city. However, I'm worried that they might not change the exam state," Navneet said. He is from Bihar and took the exams in Hyderabad, Telangana.

Speaking on the possibility of a difficult question paper, he further added, “People who have studied well will definitely do well. Even if the questions are difficult, it will be the same for everyone. In that case, the cut-off score will be low. That is not a problem.” 

Navneet had a good experience with exams and was expecting good results.

The students questioned the NTA’s credibility and complained, “The Centre should scrap the NTA unless it can work on its loopholes. Students and parents are dedicating time and resources to these tests, they need to be conducted properly.” 

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