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Sunday October 24, 2021

To dispel doubts in students minds: PMC to conduct post-exam analysis of MDCAT-2021

September 28, 2021
To dispel doubts in students minds: PMC to conduct post-exam analysis of MDCAT-2021

LAHORE: Pakistan Medical Council (PMC) has decided to conduct post-exam analysis of Medical & Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT-2021) to dispel doubts in the minds of students with regard to conduct or pattern of the examination.

“The post-exam analysis will be carried out by a team of experts as per international standards. The results will be made public. Any questions found to be contrary to the principles of examination in terms of being vague or sufficiently discriminatory shall be removed and any student attempting such removed question would be given a full mark for the question,” says a statement of PMC issued here on Monday following a meeting of a group of students, who had taken the MDCAT 2021 examination, with the PMC president.

After conclusion of the exam, every paper will be automatically rechecked by the system for any errors or anomalies as well as verified and reviewed. On conclusion of the post-exam analysis and review/rechecking of papers by the system, the final results will be notified in first week of October.

The students put forward multiple grievances including non-functioning of internet; that the system has a technical fault; and that the questions were out of syllabus. The students, therefore, demanded re-conduct of the MDCAT; or lower passing marks or additional marks being given to each student; or allow every student to see their paper and recheck physically.

The council noted that thousands of students have already passed the exam – a number which is already well in excess of the approximately 20,000 medical and dental college allocated seats available.

The council, however, explained that the examination system does not work on live open internet. It is designed to operate on a wireless local area network (LAN) at each centre. All the final answers submitted by each student at the end of the exam are uploaded to the server securely without exception.

It was examined that only 0.13pc of the total answers submitted by over 140,000 students who have already taken the exam were marked as skipped or not attempted. All the answers are being properly uploaded and scored.

The MDCAT Syllabus was prepared by the National Medical & Dental Academic Board for the 2021 MDCAT. For preparation of the syllabus representatives of all provincial boards, the Federal Board and IBCC reviewed the syllabus to ensure it covered the curriculum of each region.

The question bank was created by experts in each subject and thereafter, reviewed by two separate panels of experts to verify the difficulty indexing ascribed to each question. The exam is within the prescribed syllabus.

A student can neither be provided a copy of their question paper and answers, nor shown their paper physically. The paper is in a digital format and so are the answers which are scored by a computer. There is no human error element involved.

Lastly, each student’s paper and score are encrypted. Showing it to a student would require decrypting and will result in a process that will take at least 6-8 months considering there are almost 200,000 students – making the exercise unfeasible.

The council reiterated that National Medical & Dental Academic Board for the 2021 MDCAT recommended passing marks of 65pc which was approved by the council. Last year, the passing marks were 60pc.

Hence, a higher threshold for passing this year is more likely to result in a lower number of students qualifying the MDCAT compared to last year. The inclusion of 30pc application-based questions to test cognitive learning and reducing recall questions to 70pc of the total questions in the test by the National Medical & Dental Academic Board for the 2021 MDCAT will have an obvious effect on the final result. The intent of the exam is to determine the competency of students in terms of having grasped concepts rather than just memorized answers.

High marks achieved in FSc/A Level are not a valid basis for expectation of similar marks in a competitive medical entry test. The MDCAT is not a retake of the FSc or A level exam. It is a competitive assessment exam for entry into the extremely competitive medical and dental programmes.

The equivalence of the 2020 MDCAT result for admissions in 2021-2022 will be available and undertaken after conclusion of the 2021 MDCAT exam. Under the PMC Regulations, an MDCAT result is valid for 2 years.

The council has concluded that the 2021 MDCAT exam is being conducted strictly as per the syllabus and structure prepared by the National Medical & Dental Academic Board. The interim results are correct subject to the post exam analysis and the final results to be issued thereafter. The 2021 MDCAT exam will, therefore, continue as scheduled. All results shall be subject to the post exam analysis and any corrections required after rechecking will be made.