Kicking the Eligible
The idea of making MCAT and ECAT the pre-requisite for the admissions in the medical colleges and universities is utterly useless and worthless when there are already FSc examinations conducted according to the maintained standard of education. CATs only check rote memorisation and fast processing skills of the students. There is no difference in a CAT MCQ and a BISE one
Oh! Congratulations. You too just finished your intermediate exams and now getting ready to join the roller coaster ride of admission test preparations for entering a reputed medical/engineering University? Have you heard about so and so test preparation center? I heard they guarantee the best test results! That is a random conversation you get to hear from every other student who has just finished his intermediate examinations.
Why preparation through the test centers? Either they don’t have enough confidence in what they have learned and delivered in the Fsc examination of the intermediate boards or is this just a standard to get the test preparations from a well know training institute set by the society to get enrolled in a reputed university?
In this article, we are going to debate about how MCAT and ECAT (Medical College Admission Test and Engineering College Admission Test) procedure has ruined the system of higher education in Pakistan; with complete facts and figures.
MCAT or MDCAT
MCAT or MDCAT, which stands for Medical and Dental College Admission Test, is basically a test that is conducted every year by the different universities of Pakistan including University of Health Sciences (Lahore), Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences, Sindh Medical University of Health Sciences, Karachi Medical and Dental University, Peoples University of Medical Health Sciences for Women and five more public universities.
MCAT is a pre-requisite to get admission in all medical colleges for both private and public sector. However, the top priority of the students is to get admission in public sector medical colleges due to advanced facilities and nominal fee compared to the private, where on average, the fee for the same degree is 5-10 times more than the public sector. Therefore, the competition to get the admission in public sector colleges is more severe.
ECAT stands for Engineering College Admission Test and is a pre-requisite for the pre-engineering students to get admission in all engineering colleges of the both private and public sector. In Punjab, this test is conducted by the University of Engineering and Technology Lahore and is used as a primary factor to get admission in the UET, its affiliated universities, colleges and sub-campuses across the country. The University of Karachi, NED University of Engineering and Technology and a few other conduct this test as well.
Why MCAT or ECAT?
The point to ponder is that these admission tests are conducted from the syllabus students have already covered in the past two years of Fsc. So why is it even important to carry out these tests when students have already cleared their Fsc examinations?
Is it that assessment done by our intermediate board at the FSc level is not reliable enough to satisfy the needs of the medical and engineering colleges or these are not ready to trust the results produced by the intermediate boards? Why are these medical and engineering colleges not willing to believe the board results and insist on re-examining the students to allow them entry into their premises?
The idea of MCAT and ECAT seems utterly useless keeping this one logic in mind.
Either the FSc examinations should cease or MCAT/ECAT eliminated because both of these have the same purpose, i.e., they are the discriminative repetition for a student to enter the medical or engineering world. Now, of course, the Fsc examinations are mandatory so, naturally, the MCAT and ECAT system should be eliminated, and the admissions in these colleges should be given on pure merit keeping FSc results a certain threshold.
Some Facts About CAT 2016
More than 100,000 to 150,000 students appear in the College Admission Test every year. Let’s talk about the MCAT held in 2016 for the medical and engineering colleges/universities of the Punjab.
According to the record of MCAT 2016, in public sector, the number of seats available for MBBS were 3,405 and number of seats for BDS were 2,106. Whereas in private sector 3,000 seats were available for MBBS and 1100 seats were available for BDS.
Now, the biggest challenge!
Believe it or not, a total number of 52,272 candidates appeared for the medical college admission test which included 36,542 female and 19,730 male candidates. You can see the significant difference between the number of seats available and number of aspirants.
These students may or may not deserve the seats of a medical college, but at least they applied and dared to be tested and worked hard for it. Yet it is quite obvious that not each one of them is going to see their dream come true. Unfair enough?
Is it possible to increase the number of seats available in the medical colleges and universities to accommodate more genius minds into? The answer by the VC, University of the Health Sciences, Lahore was; “We can’t increase the number of seats in our colleges due to the lack of resources and budget. There aren’t sufficient class rooms, lecture halls and laboratories in medical colleges, so it’s very hard for us to Increase the number of seats for medical students while maintaining the quality education at campuses”.
The same goes with the ECAT where the number of seats available and number of students willing to apply differs from each other on a similar scale and many students fail to fulfill their dreams.
MDCAT-2017 paper leaked
It was reported on 20 August 2017 that one MDCAT paper was leaked before examination which created serious panic among the students who were appearing in this test. A number of students were seen protesting outside the Lahore Press Club to force down the establishment and authorities to re-conduct the Medical and Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT) as its question paper was leaked. Students claimed that MDCAT has lost its credibility. An “immediate action” was taken by the chief minister of Punjab, Shehbaz Sharif through a press conference to “muddy” the matter by forming a committee to probe just who were involved in this disaster.
The CM Secretariat issued a letter which stated that Prof Dr Eice Muhammad (the additional inspector general of police), the Federal Investigation Agency’s Lahore director, the Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA) director general and a member of the Chief Minister’s Inspection Team (CMIT) would constitute the committee that will also “find out the persons responsible for such an offence, if committed, and to fix responsibility upon government servants to get the MDCAT conducted in the most professional manner”.
Until now, none were found and most probably nothing will come out of this committee; however, if the LHC would not order the UHS not to release the results until the responsibility fixed and justice done, those who cheated could have managed to get admission into the colleges of their choice.
Injustice with the students
We have seen that the students who score higher marks in the FSc examinations often fail to pass these CATs or secure minimal marks while the students who were not good in their intermediate examination pass with flying colors.
The reason is simply that the pattern of these College Admission Tests that is entirely intended to test your memorising skills rather the intelligence level.
Can you believe it? How innocent and deserving students are forced to leave their seats for someone whose intelligence level may be low but he can “Ratta-Fi” it out!
This injustice not only destroys the commitment of the hard working students but also affects our knowledge economy. Because students are the biggest asset of any nation and if non-deserving students get selected for admission through these unfair CATs, then the results would come out accordingly, and the panic, hopelessness and brain drain will be the most probable outcome.
Who is the beneficiary?
Ever wondered who is getting the fruit at the end? Why is all this getting so much hype? Is there a mafia working on it? Yes, you guessed it right!
CATs have become a source of earning money and looting the innocent students by the mafias in the education ministry and UHS once a year. The forms issued for these admission tests are NOT FOR FREE.
There you go!
Each form is worth rupees 1,000 or 2,000. It doesn’t matter if you are getting the seat or not, you have to purchase and fill the form to apply for the test and there is no refund policy if you fail to get admission. Let’s say 150,000 students apply each year for the test.
Can you imagine the total these mafias enjoy just from issuing the forms which may hardly cost them 10 rupees per form? That’s it. The biggest beneficiaries are the mafias themselves.
Beneficiary Number 2: The training institutes
Secondly, how can our coaching centers and training institutes stay quiet? You guessed it right again. Another beneficiary of all these CATs are the coaching centers who brainwash and assure you to help get the admission in your desired colleges and universities. Having an active nexus with the mafias I just discussed, some of them even claim that the exam paper they’ll provide you during the preparation would be identical to the one on test day and they are not wrong. Recall last month’s incident of the paper leak!
Now, think, how can a paper of the “Holy NTS and UHS” be leaked in the private coaching centers? The UHS-coaching mafia keeps pushing the files in the education ministry on the usefulness and importance of these tests. While no one believes in the value of these tests, at least, moving these files for approval is very “useful” for all involved. The coaching centers make it sure that everyone gets the decided share of the money they earn through the preparation drama.
The least expected fee for the ECAT or MCAT preparation is 25,000 per session which may increase up to 50,000 for those centers, which assure you of an identical test preparation. And listen, no matter how good you have scored in the FSc examinations, if you can’t afford the fee you are not eligible for the preparation.
You need to be rich enough, ofcourse
Well, Well! Are they going to slurry feed or inject something super natural in you to get those medical and engineering college seats? No? Then what is this all fee for?
Yes, the most attention-grabbing fact is that they are not going to teach you anything out of the syllabus of Fsc. They are not going to re-teach even, but will “teach to the test.” The technique to score higher with a lower ability is what they teach in the preparation sessions. The best techniques for MCAT and ECAT Score Inflation are taught in these test preparation centers.
The idea of making MCAT and ECAT the pre-requisite for the admissions in the medical colleges and universities is utterly useless and worthless when there are already FSc examinations conducted according to the maintained standard of education. CATs only check rote memorisation and fast processing skills of the students. There is no difference in a CAT MCQ and a BISE one.
All this seems to be the game plan to earn money, fool students and let the non-deserving win this race while the deserving students sit back and curse their fate. The cruelest practice by the authorities to play with the emotions, future, and money of the innocent students must come to an end.
This is truly unfair for the poor students who can’t afford the test preparation fees of the coaching and training institutes as they feel left behind in this society although there is no need of such tests after clearing the Fsc examinations.
Can we stop engineering ways to cheat merit? We shall.