Blooming of MCQ | culture | Competitive exams | India | 22nd October 2022 | Virtual Wire
Today, almost every competitive exam involves marking responses on an OMR sheet.
Candidates appearing in these examinations can be seen hustling at the last minute to encircle the answers. However, the efficiency of MCQ-based exams needs to be questioned.
Multiple choice questions, or MCQs, nowadays replaced the other mode of assessment for students in India. The well-known exams such as UPSC (prelims), NEET, JEE, and UGC-NET and popular government competitive exams like IBPS, SSC, and State PCS are conducted in MCQ format. It is likely to supersede current subjective examinations in schools and universities. A warning was issued to the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) for admission to central universities in India, as 14.9 lakh candidates enrolled for the entrance exams, which made it India's second most widely taken admission test this year, after the JEE. Thousands of CUET candidates faced technical glitches at test centres across the country.
Is Mcq-Based Exam Efficient?
The primary reason for the MCQ exam culture is that it allows the examiner to quickly evaluate the answers while conveniently filtering out a significant number of candidates. Multiple-choice questions are an effective way of assessing a candidate's factual knowledge, but allowing objective answers to subjects such as philosophy, psychology, and performing arts, for example, cannot be justified. Similar contentions can be raised about application-based subjects, such as mathematics, where there are multiple correct answers with entirely different solutions. Furthermore, is the MCQ format adequate for developing students' innovative thinking or judgemental skills? Or is it possible to instil values or promote social thinking in students? One can argue that we can ask value-based questions, but what about entrepreneurship and communication skills? Can they be assessed as well?
According to the A.K. Ranjan Committee, established by the Tamil Nadu government to study the impact of NEET on medical students, "it highlighted that candidates who had secured admission based on their class 12th performance did well in their MBBS courses as compared to candidates who qualified NEET exam."
What can be a Feasible Solution?
The MCQ pattern will always prevail for competitive exams in India. Considering a large number of candidates for these exams, its absence may cause significant problems, and we will have to wait endlessly for the results to be published. Therefore, a combination of an MCQ-based pattern and a subjective assessment method needs to be adopted in such a way that it not only ensures the quality of the applicants but can strike a balance between these two.