Hurried Prep, Last Minute Change in Test Centres: CUET Day 1 Marred by Hiccups
While NTA officials told news agencies that students will be given another chance, the UGC said that is unlikely.
Cameraperson: Ribhu Chatterjee
Producer: Varsha Rani
Video Editor: Pawan Kumar
Senior Editor: Somya Lakhani
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 fifth part, we bring you reports from the examination centres on Day 1. Read part 3 here and part 4 here.
At 11 am on Friday, Lalita, a 18-year-old student from Delhi’s Govindpuri managed to reach the Delhi University National Stadium in North Campus. She waved an admit card and requested the security guard at the entrance to let her in.
After all, today, 15 July, was day one of the Common University Entrance Test (CUET), which is mandatory for any student who wants admission in a central university.
Lalita was two hours late for the exam because her entrance centre was changed from Dwarka to the one in North Campus on 14 July.
“There was an email about the change, but I didn’t see it. One is not always checking the phone for emails. I ended up reaching the Dwarka centre. There I was told that I have to go to North Campus. I took a lift from someone and reached here but I was late,” she told The Quint.
Lalita wasn’t the only one. Her friend, Ritika, also reached the centre late. They requested authorities to allow them to give the test.
As reported by PTI, a senior National Testing Agency (NTA) official said, "At other centres, the candidates who could not appear due to changes in exam centres will also get another chance."
However, NDTV reported that the UGC Chairperson Jagadesh Kumar Mamidala said that students who have missed the test will not be given another chance.
He said that students are advised to reach the centre two hours in advance and will be given a 'grace period' of 30 minutes, after which they would not be allowed to enter.
On day one of the CUET, several students and their parents complained about mismanagement – especially related to entrance test venues.
Outside the North Campus centre, students spoke about how they were first assigned a centre in Dwarka sector 3 but it was changed last minute after they received calls, messages, emails from the NTA.
This is the first time that the CUET for undergraduate students is being conducted. In March this year, the University Grants Commission (UGC) had made CUET mandatory for admission to central universities.
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.
At least 14,90,000 candidates are appearing in CUET-UG, and the exam is being conducted between 15 July and 20 August in 10 sessions.
'They Have to Give Exam Under Stress'
In the first half of the day, students kept arriving late as they had been rerouted from Dwarka by security guards outside the sector 3 centre. Most were a bundle of nerves, while many parents were agitated by the last-minute change.
Mansi Diwan was among the many students who had to rush from Dwarka to North Campus at the last minute, after finding out that her centre had changed.
Her aunt, Prerna Khangwal told The Quint:
"We left from Ajmeri Gate for the Dwarka centre, and were then sent to North Campus. We reached here in an auto by 8.10 am and then stood in the queue outside this centre. When we reached the gate, the security guard told us that we need a print-out of the new admit card. We then took a lift from some parents and got the admit card. When we reached, they said we were too late. Eventually, after requesting, my niece was allowed in to give the exam.”
Mansi’s aunt Prerna said that this episode did take a toll on her niece.
“Any student would become hopeless. All morning, she roamed around the city to sit for this exam – from Ajmeri Gate to Dwarka to North Campus.”
Meanwhile, Rashid Ahmed, who is in his 20s and runs a zipper business in Delhi’s Khajuri, left his work for the day in order to take his younger sister to the centre and back.
He said, "My sister got a call and a message yesterday evening. The admit card also came late and students had less time to prepare. On top of that, they have the added stress of having to worry about a change in location."
'Delayed Admit Card, Very Little Time to Prepare,' Say Students
Navya Sharma from Uttar Pradesh’s Sahibabad received her first admit card on 11 July and had only five days to prepare. On 14 July, she received yet another admit card and that only increased her anxiety.
Once done with her test in the afternoon, she said, "The general test was a little difficult. The other two, English and general aptitude were easy. We got application-based questions and reading comprehension in the English paper.”
Many students spoke about how they wished “their board results be considered instead as their CUET preparation was hindered by the many hiccups they faced.”
Meanwhile, Priyanshi Choudhary, who met The Quint minutes before her exam in the second half of the day, said, “I think that those who will sit for it in August will be at an advantage. Firstly, we got to know our dates at the last minute. Then on top of that, our centre changed, and we had to run around. How can we be expected to prepare in the middle of all this?"
For Nikita Rawat, however, the exam went smoothly after she settled in the exam hall. While the morning was stressful for her, she said, "Once I saw that the questions were quite easy, I was in a better place."
She said that there were choices in all subjects and they had to attempt 40 out of 50 in all other subjects and 60 out of 75 in general knowledge.
"In the political science paper, we were asked about things such as the Constitution," said Nikita.
Aadhya Shukla too, found the paper easy, adding that most of the questions were from NCERT textbooks. She said that the English paper had reading comprehension, word meanings and sentence framing.
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