Landmark Order: JIPMER Asked to Reveal Test Paper and Keys

One of the biggest bones that the Indian post graduate entrance examinees had to pick with the system was the (?apparent) lack of transparency in the examination system, One of the things that could have easily ensured a transparent and clean exam would be if the students were handed the question papers and answer keys along with it after their exams. Hence, when the results (with full declaration of marks) would come out, no one would be left guessing as to what went wrong.

However, for some purpose, the Indian examination authorities have always managed to keep this at bay and often, has left students wondering what they did wrong. While I totally understand the logic of not “exposing” their question banks, this is usually futile since the whole paper gets recalled anyways. With the huge number of students that take every exam, it is unlikely that the paper can be kept under wraps.

But today’s newspaper brought good tidings for the PG perspirants. The Central Information Commissioner, Mr. Sailesh Gandhi, has instructed the JIPMER to reveal answer keys in response to an RTI (Right to Information Act) petition filed by one Dr. Sudhakar who was interested in the MCh Urology paper. Here is the news article from today’s newspaper:

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Examination boards not wanting to expose their question banks is nothing new. In fact, the USMLE, widely considered to be one of the most standard (and fair and consistent) examination systems globally, is also very stingy when it comes to exposing their questions. They have legal power to slap on an “irregular activity” mark on the certificates of candidates who are caught discussing the USMLE questions on public forum.

While I am sure even the USMLE cannot prevent word-of-mouth spread of questions, the situation in India is even more uncontrollable and unmonitored. So instead of slapping impractical legislation that cannot be implemented by any practical means and would instead consume resources that might have been better employed otherwise, I think, providing the answer keys makes more sense.

Now there are lots of students who have spent an awful lot of time filing petitions in courts and RTIs with the examination boards without much positive results thus far. However, this ruling is set to create a precedent that is going to be difficult to ignore. The crusaders for transparency in examination system should gain a lot of heart from this bit of news and make their move to get the papers and keys of the last All India PG exam declared. Seeing as how it has been widely touted as the most difficult examination in the last decade, it would be interesting to see the results!

There are a lot of changes coming into the Indian medical education scenario. Starting with the dissolution of the Medical Council of India on charges of corruption, to the ongoing debate of starting a centralized examination and the reforms in the Undergraduate levels – things are changing faster than one can imagine.

These are the best of times… these are the worst of times indeed.

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