Entrance Exams for Universities: Yes/No?

Posted on August 25, 2009
Filed Under >Owais Mughal, Education
39 Comments
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Owais Mughal

There was a time when passing intermediate/HSC (High School Certificate) with good grades could get you into a public university. Not any more. The standard of testing at HSC level is presumed to have fallen so low that not even public universities are accepting candidates on sole basis of passing HSC exams. The requirement of a separate entrance test in addition to passing HSC exams has now become a de-facto requirement by public universities in Pakistan.

In most universities, HSC grades still get some weightage when calculating the total acceptance criteria but a good grade in HSC alone is not sufficient.

My question is what is the purpose of spending so much time, money and effort on conducting HSC exams? Now a student has to do hardwork in HSC exams and once those exams are over, they have to prepare again for entrance exams to several universities they intend to apply. Don’t you think it is an added and unnecessary burden on students to pass all these extra entrance exams?

A counter argument can be made that if a student prepares for HSC exams in letter and spirit i.e. by understanding the concepts and not by ‘rattafication’ (memorizing) then he/she can pass any entrance exam. That is true and I agree with that argument. But then my counter argument would be to improve on testing method at HSC level. Make all HSC exams MCQ type where ‘rattafication’ will not help. Today the criteria of passing HSC exams is memorizing long descriptive answers, which do no help a candidate in any entrance exam.

The situation has now reached a point where there is a perception that those universities which do not conduct entrance test are below standard. Therefore 2nd or 3rd-tier public universities and colleges are also in the business of conducting their own Entrance exams because they don’t want to appear as having lower acceptance criteria.

For the past few years I’ve also noticed a trend of commercialization and politization of Entrance exams. Whole new institutions of private coaching have sprung up across Pakistan which guarantee you success in all kinds of entrance exams. I’ve also noticed the trend where student wings of notorious political parties conduct practise/mock exams for candidates to public universities. One reason that prompted me to write this post was that today I even saw a statement from a political leader where he has demanded to standardize the university entrance exams all over Pakistan. Good demand, but my point is why don’t we reform the insitution of HSC boards and exams instead of creating more and more roadblocks for students.

Below I want to summarize few arguments for and against Entrance Test to the public universities.

Arguments For Entry Exams to Universities:

1. HSC exams and their marking criteria are not consistent across the country. HSC results differ by huge margin from board to board and region to region.

2. HSC exams are prone to corruption and cheating.

3. HSC exams test a person’s memory and not concepts. e.g. descriptive questions on which marking is also qualitative (read as “depends on the mood of an examiner”) and not quantitative.

4. Centralized exams are a worldwide norm e.g. SAT, GRE, GMAT etc scores have weightage when admission is sought to Universities in the Western Hemisphere.

5. If a student goes through HSC curriculum by learning concepts then he/she should be able to pass all entry exams with minimum effort.

Arguments Against Entry Exams to Universities:

1. It renders the whole institution of Intermediate (HSC) boards country-wide useless and meaningless. I would even go as far as saying that it is like wasting 2 years of students.

2. Monetary burden on students who pay examination fees at HSC boards and then for individual entry exams at universities. Conducting entrance exams has almost become means for extra income for the universities.

3. Psychological burden on students. At first the students have to do two years of hard study at HSC level only to know before hand that it alone won’t be enough to get them into a university.

I concede that my arguments against entrance Exams are lesser in number than those which are for entrance exams. But I believe my ‘against’ arguments have more weight. If I were a student going thorugh two years of rigorous HSC Studies, I want that exercise to be worthy enough to atleast get me to next level of education.

I would be willing to prepare for a different (reformed) type of HSC testing where my concepts are tested and not my memory. I will be happily going through this 2 year of hardwork, if I know it is worth something.

The photo above shows a self assessment test being conducted by a student wing of a political party in Hyderabad. This is for preparing students for the entrance test to Sindh University, Jamshoro.

To conclude this post I want to say that in my opinion HSC boards and their exams should be reformed so that their results are worthy of admissions to public universities. Entry exams conducted by public universities on their own should be abolished.

What do you think?

Photo Credits: Associated Press of Pakistan

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39 responses to “Entrance Exams for Universities: Yes/No?”

  1. Maleeha Khan says:

    agreed!! its a complete wastage of money , time and a burden too…. actually there no such criteria seen in universities they enter all the students who just appeared in the exams and i have seen such students in universities who didnt even bother to give this exam and now they are in and doing there bachelors.. !! so where is the criteria ?? what universites actually see??

  2. pinky khan says:

    hmmmmmmm entry tst is second chance for those students who wants to be something but could not secure good marks in fsc examination because of various circumtances

  3. Rameez Rehman says:

    Entry test is a burden on the students in terms of 3 points
    1. Wastage of time.
    2. Wastage of money.
    3. Mental dissatisfaction for the students who take very good marks in FSc.

    So why students have to give 2 exams??? It shows universities are not trusting on the “Board of Intermediate and Secondary education” .
    Solution is very simple which will be acceptable for every student that is :
    There should be a choice for every student whether he/she is willing to give entry test or not.Those who are willing to give entry test their merit should be made on the basis of their entry test and for the rest of the students merit should be made on the basis of their FSc marks.

  4. Geo Dost says:

    I want to say that, we should unite against the corruption mafia who is involved in making money not only by illegal means but also destructing the future of our students and the nation as a whole. Every time before board exams we hear the news that there is another committee formed to stop cheating in board exams, but it never happens actually.

    Every new committee increases corruption. They grab money from Center Superintendents for ignoring anything that happens. Specially SSC exams are most engineered and corrupted. Purpose of exam centre is dead, because at exam centres, invigilators are appointed with the agreement of students.

    If this problem is solved, students will surely pass all entrance test without overburdening themselves.

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