17 of 24 CMAT Toppers Took Exam From Same Centre, Foul Play Likely

17 out of 24 candidates in the top 20 list in CMAT merit list belong to one centre – is this merely a coincidence?

6 min read
17 out of 24 candidates in the top 20 list in CMAT merit list belong to one centre – can this just be a coincidence?

The unusual phenomenon of 17 candidates from one exam centre appearing in the top 24 merit list securing top rank in the recently concluded CMAT (Common Management Admission Test) has rattled aspirants. The exam was conducted on 20 January and the merit list was published by the AICTE (All India Council for Technical Education) on 17 February.

On examining the 2018 CMAT merit list, The Quint found that the first five digits of the roll numbers – 11510 – are common to 17 out of the top 24 rank holders whose names have appeared in the merit list. A top ranking AICTE official has confirmed to The Quint that the exam centre with ‘115’ code is a college based in Gurugram.

Given the fact that the AICTE exam was conducted in 177 centres across 75 cities, for 17 out of 24 toppers to be from the same exam centre is a matter that clearly needs investigation.

AICTE officials, however, are vehemently denying any foul play and are explaining this strange phenomenon as a coincidence.

(Infographic: Saumya Pankaj/<b>The Quint</b>)
(Infographic: Saumya Pankaj/The Quint)
(Source: AICTE-CMAT.in)

Link Between Roll Numbers and Exam Centres

CMAT roll numbers are issued according to a system. The first three digits of the roll number indicates the city and the centre in which a candidate appears for the exam. The first two digits of the roll number indicate the city/region and the next digit indicates the exam centre.

For example, the roll numbers of candidates belonging to Kolkata this year start with digits ‘10’, in Pune roll numbers begin with digits ‘22’ while in Navi Mumbai roll numbers start with ‘21’.

No Abnormality in Last Three Years’ Merit List

Let’s rewind a year and take a look at the Top 20 merit list for 2017, accessed by The Quint – only two roll numbers in the top 20 have the same first three digits.

The top 20 rank-holders were from 14 different cities and 19 different centres – in other words, a wide distribution across the country, as it should logically be.

Infographic: Saumya Pankaj/ <b>The Quint</b>
Infographic: Saumya Pankaj/ The Quint
(Source: AICTE-CMAT.in)

We also accessed the 2016 CMAT merit list and the 2015 CMAT merit list – Again, in BOTH merit lists, roll numbers are varied, indicating that the toppers are from various exam centres.

So, in the CMAT merit lists for 3 years preceding 2018, such an abnormal phenomenon of 17 toppers from the same exam centre does NOT repeat itself.

But this year, 17 out of the 24 top candidates have roll numbers beginning with ‘11510’, a frequency so high that it begs the question - how did more than 70% of this year’s CMAT toppers miraculously take the exam from the exact same centre?

Toppers Took Exam at Gurugram Centre

A high ranking AICTE official has confirmed to The Quint that the CMAT exam centre with ‘115’ code is Gurugram-based DPG Institute of Technology and Management. The Quint has confirmed this, having accessed an Admit Card used by a candidate who gave the CMAT at this centre. A picture of this Admit Card is below.

While the first three digits ‘115’ are indicative of one exam centre, the fourth digit ‘1’ is associated with the exam slot (morning or afternoon shift), while remaining six figures are unique IDs allotted to each candidate.

Infographic: Saumya Pankaj/ <b>The Quint</b>
Infographic: Saumya Pankaj/ The Quint
(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

The official, who spoke to The Quint on condition of anonymity, denied any possibility of foul play.

These candidates were not sitting next to each other so this can’t be an instance of mass copying. These toppers belong to different cities and have a good academic background. 
Top AICTE official

On being asked how it is that as many as 17 candidates in the top 24 appeared for the exam at the same centre, the AICTE official attributed it to ‘coincidence’. When The Quint contacted the DPG Institute of Technology & Management, we were told that a building in the college has been given to TCS iON Centre, which is usually hired for conducting competitive exams. A detailed questionnaire on the number of invigilators and video recording at the exam centre (which is mandatory by the AICTE) has been mailed to the DPG Institute of Technology & Management, we will update the story with their response as and when we receive it.

AICTE Denies Allegations of Discrepancy

Anil Sahasrabudhe, Chairman of AICTE, too has denied the possibility of mass copying or a possible paper leak at this particular exam centre. Speaking to The Quint, he asserted that all security measures were in place during the exams:

14,000 students appeared (in the exam). Those who answered correctly have done well. If someone else has gone to the same coaching and they know all the answers, how do I know? There has been strict invigilation at all the centres. We have camera recordings of the same.
Anil Sahasrabudhe, AICTE Chairman

However, an educationist and expert who has been closely associated with conducting such competitive exams, is not convinced by AICTE's assertion that all is well.

If the candidates belonged to the same city and centre, this is a case of serious foul play. It is just not possible that this is a coincidence.

Shubham Shukla, Founder Member of EQL Classes, a coaching centre in Pune that helps MBA aspirants prepare for competitive exams, is also apprehensive about so many toppers belonging to one exam centre. Speaking to The Quint, Shukla, who has been teaching students for last eight years, said:

Such a thing has never happened before. Even if students from the same coaching centre fill forms en masse, it’s unlikely that so many will emerge as toppers. It’s odd that most of these toppers have scored 80-85 in the General Awareness section when the average score has been between 60-75 since last few years.
Shubham Shukla, Founder Member, EQL Classes (Pune)

Complaints Galore, But Will AICTE Probe the Matter?

CMAT was held across 75 cities at 177 centres this year. The exam acts as a gateway for students seeking admission in private management institutes, apart from the IIMs.

A day after the results were declared on 15 February, a Nasik-based student wrote an email to the concerned authorities at the AICTE seeking an explanation for his overall score, which was less than what he had expected. After the student sent two reminders, the AICTE finally wrote back on 20 February stating that there has been no discrepancy.

The CMAT question paper comprises of 100 questions (25 each) from four sections – Quantitative Techniques & Data Interpretation, Logical Reasoning, Language Comprehension and General Awareness, with maximum marks of 100 allotted for each section.

This Nasik-based student, who didn’t want to reveal his identity, told The Quint:

No one in CMAT or AICTE is giving us any information on this matter. Whom should we approach now? We hope that the authorities look at this seriously and investigate the matter. They should make sure that the exams are conducted in a fair manner. If not, the results must be scrapped.

Another student from Surendranagar in Gujarat who appeared for the CMAT exam this year has shared an audio recording of her conversation with a representative of the AICTE helpline who was unwilling to respond to her query regarding the centre with code ‘11510’.

Several candidates who appeared for CMAT this year have also formed a Facebook page called 'CMAT 2018 SCAM' to express their displeasure over what they call “clear discrepancies in the CMAT 2018 merit list”.

Will the AICTE continue to brush off the issue or will they order a probe into the matter? The clamour is definitely rising.

(The Quint, in association with BitGiving, has launched a crowdfunding campaign for an 8-month-old who was raped in Delhi on 28 January 2018. The baby girl, who we will refer to as 'Chhutki', was allegedly raped by her 28-year-old cousin when her parents were away. She has been discharged from AIIMS hospital after undergoing three surgeries, but needs more medical treatment in order to heal completely. Her parents hail from a low-income group and have stopped going to work so that they can take care of the baby. You can help cover Chhutki's medical expenses and secure her future. Every little bit counts. Click here to donate.)

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