MDCAT blues

This is with reference to the report ‘Medical commission orders rechecking of MDCAT question papers’ (Nov 16). It takes a couple of years to prepare for the medical and dental college admission test (MDCAT) in the light of the laid down criteria and syllabus.

The test, as one can well imagine, is crucial for all candidates aspiring to become doctors, because the very journey starts with this test. And it is not an exam that one has to simply pass. It is a competitive exam which means one has to score high enough to qualify. And with all that at stake, everything matters. This year’s MDCAT was held after a considerable delay owing to the recent floods that disturbed life in major parts of the country. The delay and the subsequent uncertainty increased anxiety among the aspirants. When the test was eventually held on Nov 13 throughout the country, it was a nightmare for many, as has been noted by the Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) as well. In Sindh, where I sat the test, it was conducted by the Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS). It was strange to find multiple choice questions (MCQs) related to subjects and topics that were not part of the prescribed syllabus.

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It was unjust, disappointing and seriously demoralising for the students to find so many such questions; at least 20-30 of them. More than that, the biggest negative impact these questions had on the students was in terms of the distraction they caused.

The students just lost their focus to the extent that they felt confused in answering even the relevant questions. The test was a chaos and mental torture for the candidates. Besides, when the key to the answers was later uploaded on the university’s website, it had many wrong answers, leaving the students even more confused and shocked. No one is quite sure what is actually going on behind the scenes. Students are already giving voice to their concerns on various social media platforms against such blatant injustice. The DUHS should provide question papers to the students and the key to the answers should also be rechecked for the sake of justice and fair play. Furthermore, remedial measures should be taken by both the DUHS and the PMC by compensating the students for the errors in the examination paper. The PMC, according to the said report, has already asked all public-sector universities to recheck their question papers and to compensate the students in case of any discrepancy.

This is a logical decision made promptly. One hopes that the PMC would ensure that the decision gets implemented as well, and implemented fairly.

The untiring efforts of students should not go in vain due to mistakes made by MDCAT administrators. Besides, the PMC and all other relevant authorities should ensure that such problems do not happen in the future.



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