The Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) has extended the Medical and Dental Colleges Admissions Test (MDCAT) over a period of 30 days in violation of Section 18 of the Pakistan Medical Commission Act 2020 that mandates a single MDCAT.
The President of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Punjab, Dr. Ghulam Shabir, said, that this decision may result in the same test being given to the candidates appearing on different dates, and there is also the possibility of easy questions being given to favorite students.
He remarked, “I can surely say that the multiple-choice questions (MCQs) pool cannot be so big that different questions would be given throughout the month. I have personal experience that students share MCQs after coming out of the hall and some people pay students to share five questions each after the test as a result of which they are able to get the entire question paper. After 10 days, the entire MCQ bank becomes public”.
“Content validity counts in tests but it is strange that students cannot even ask about the authenticity of questions. According to rules, there should be a single test the way it was conducted by the University of Health Sciences, University of Sindh, and NTS. Moreover, the result should be shared right after the test. Uniformity of tests has been compromised,” he added.
In response to a question, Dr. Shabir affirmed that easy questions can be devised for favorite students. “It is possible that a student who will sit on terminal 10 on September 12 would get an easy question paper. I suggest that there should be one questionnaire but its sequence should be changed so that students would not ask anything from each other during tests,” he said.
However, a PMC official disclosed that “exams are inculcated from a preselected pool of questions which we refer to as a ‘question bank’”.
“The process of examination setting is quite a meticulous analytical endeavor that requires the ratio of easy, medium, and difficult questions to remain identical in the case of a standardized test that takes place over a period of time. Although the MDCAT is being conducted over the course of a month, the actual examination in terms of its content and difficulty level remains the same,” the official explained and added that “the law states one exam per child, it does not state that it needs to be taken on one single day”.
The official said that “The MDCAT this year is a computer-based exam and from a logistics perspective, this is simply not possible to hold on a single day given the number of applicants who sit the exam across Pakistan each year. Thus the examination is a standardized national test and follows global best practices whereby exams such as the SAT and GMAT are held on multiple days for prospective applicants”.