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CUET: Why Was It Implemented? What Can Students Expect in the Entrance Exam?

In March this year, the UGC made CUET mandatory for students seeking admissions to any of the central universities

Updated
Education
4 min read
CUET: Why Was It Implemented? What Can Students Expect in the Entrance Exam?
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In the run up to the first-ever Common University Entrance Test (CUET) – a single entrance exam for undergraduate colleges – The Quint brings you stories of how students, as well as coaching centres, are adapting to the new pattern. In the first part, read all about why the CUET was implemented and what students can expect from the exam.

It was in 2010 that the Central Universities Common Entrance Test (CUCET) was first held under the UPA-II government. Back then, it was held only for admissions to seven central universities but over the years, more universities started conducting admissions through CUCET.

CUET: Why Was It Implemented? What Can Students Expect in the Entrance Exam?

  1. 1. Aim of Implementing CUET

    In March 2022, however, the University Grants Commission (UGC) announced that the Common University Entrance Test or CUET (earlier CUCET) will be mandatory for all undergraduate students who want to gain admission to any one of the central universities in the country.

    As many as 86 universities are participating in CUET-UG this year. This includes 43 central universities, 12 deemed universities, and 18 private universities across the country.

    According to the National Testing Agency (NTA), 14,90,000 candidates will appear in CUET-UG, and these candidates have applied for 54,555 unique subject combinations.

    The idea behind CUET is to ensure that it provides students with a common platform, irrespective of which part of the country they are from, as per the UGC.

    This large-scale implementation was in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) as per which admissions to higher education institutes should be via a common entrance test so that there is a ‘uniform standard of benchmarking for candidates.’

    When the announcement was made by the UGC chairperson Jagadesh Kumar Mamidala, he said that “CUET will provide a common platform and equal opportunities to students from across the country, particularly from rural and remote areas, and help establish a better connection with the universities.”

    The other aim is to do away with discrepancies in class XII board results as some state boards mark more leniently than others, a government official had told The Indian Express.

    Expand
  2. 2. Exam Syllabus and Structure

    The exam gives students a wide range of subjects to pick from. They must choose their subjects based on the requirements of the universities they are applying for, and so universities have announced subject-specific requirements for admissions.

    The test essentially comprises four sections. Section one is the language section which is divided into two parts – 1A which consists of 13 languages and Section 1B which has 20 languages. Section two of the test has 27 domain-specific subjects while Section three is a general test.

    A candidate can take a maximum of nine tests via two routes.

    Route one: two languages from Section 1A and Section 1B taken together, a maximum of six domain subjects from Section two and a general test from Section three.

    Route two: a maximum of three languages from Section 1A and 1B, a maximum of five domain subjects from Section two, and a general test from section three.

    The language test will comprise reading comprehension based on different types of passages – factual, literary, and narrative. The general test will include general knowledge, current affairs, general mental ability, numerical ability, quantitative reasoning (which will be based on mathematical concepts arithmetic/algebra/ geometry/mensuration/stat taught till class VIII) and logical and analytical reasoning.

    The syllabus for the domain subjects is based on class 12 National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) textbooks. The syllabus can be found here on the official CUET website.

    Each test is distinct and is not linked with the other. Candidates cannot move from one section to the other before finishing the former.
    Expand
  3. 3. Role of the National Testing Agency (NTA) and Universities

    The test is being conducted by the NTA, which is also tasked with the registration of candidates, issuing admit cards, conducting the exams and finalising the answer keys, apart from processing and declaring results. After this, the universities will take over. Eligibility, reservation, and other admission policies are left to the participating institutes.

    Once the results are declared, the universities will begin the counselling process and prepare their respective merit lists. They can follow the same practices that they have been following in the previous years.

    Is CUET a Fair Admission Process?

    While the UGC said that the CUET is expected to reduce financial strain as students will not have to sit for a range of university examinations, educators have argued that coaching centres will start mushrooming, thereby putting students and their families under immense strain.

    Another issue raised by students and educators is the fact that since the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is based on NCERT textbooks, it might put CBSE students at an advantage while state board students will be at a disadvantage.

    Many professors had also raised the question of academic freedom, saying that there are specialised courses offered by institutes that have conducted their own processes for many years.
    Expand

In March 2022, however, the University Grants Commission (UGC) announced that the Common University Entrance Test or CUET (earlier CUCET) will be mandatory for all undergraduate students who want to gain admission to any one of the central universities in the country.

As many as 86 universities are participating in CUET-UG this year. This includes 43 central universities, 12 deemed universities, and 18 private universities across the country.

According to the National Testing Agency (NTA), 14,90,000 candidates will appear in CUET-UG, and these candidates have applied for 54,555 unique subject combinations.

Aim of Implementing CUET

The idea behind CUET is to ensure that it provides students with a common platform, irrespective of which part of the country they are from, as per the UGC.

This large-scale implementation was in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) as per which admissions to higher education institutes should be via a common entrance test so that there is a ‘uniform standard of benchmarking for candidates.’

When the announcement was made by the UGC chairperson Jagadesh Kumar Mamidala, he said that “CUET will provide a common platform and equal opportunities to students from across the country, particularly from rural and remote areas, and help establish a better connection with the universities.”

The other aim is to do away with discrepancies in class XII board results as some state boards mark more leniently than others, a government official had told The Indian Express.

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Exam Syllabus and Structure

The exam gives students a wide range of subjects to pick from. They must choose their subjects based on the requirements of the universities they are applying for, and so universities have announced subject-specific requirements for admissions.

The test essentially comprises four sections. Section one is the language section which is divided into two parts – 1A which consists of 13 languages and Section 1B which has 20 languages. Section two of the test has 27 domain-specific subjects while Section three is a general test.

A candidate can take a maximum of nine tests via two routes.

Route one: two languages from Section 1A and Section 1B taken together, a maximum of six domain subjects from Section two and a general test from Section three.

Route two: a maximum of three languages from Section 1A and 1B, a maximum of five domain subjects from Section two, and a general test from section three.

The language test will comprise reading comprehension based on different types of passages – factual, literary, and narrative. The general test will include general knowledge, current affairs, general mental ability, numerical ability, quantitative reasoning (which will be based on mathematical concepts arithmetic/algebra/ geometry/mensuration/stat taught till class VIII) and logical and analytical reasoning.

The syllabus for the domain subjects is based on class 12 National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) textbooks. The syllabus can be found here on the official CUET website.

Each test is distinct and is not linked with the other. Candidates cannot move from one section to the other before finishing the former.

Role of the National Testing Agency (NTA) and Universities

The test is being conducted by the NTA, which is also tasked with the registration of candidates, issuing admit cards, conducting the exams and finalising the answer keys, apart from processing and declaring results. After this, the universities will take over. Eligibility, reservation, and other admission policies are left to the participating institutes.

Once the results are declared, the universities will begin the counselling process and prepare their respective merit lists. They can follow the same practices that they have been following in the previous years.

Is CUET a Fair Admission Process?

While the UGC said that the CUET is expected to reduce financial strain as students will not have to sit for a range of university examinations, educators have argued that coaching centres will start mushrooming, thereby putting students and their families under immense strain.

Another issue raised by students and educators is the fact that since the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is based on NCERT textbooks, it might put CBSE students at an advantage while state board students will be at a disadvantage.

Many professors had also raised the question of academic freedom, saying that there are specialised courses offered by institutes that have conducted their own processes for many years.
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Professors had earlier told The Quint that some universities offer distinctive courses, for instance, the Jharkhand University offers a course on Tribal Studies, for which it would conduct its own exams.

Further, Article 30 of the Constitution permits minority institutes to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. Universities such as the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) had earlier expressed their reservations against the test. St. Stephen's, a component college of Delhi University, has been at loggerheads with the University, regarding admission to its courses since it has traditionally conducted an interview for admissions.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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