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Mumbai University: Give grace marks in final-year online MCQ exams

September 30, 2020

In a recent circular, the Mumbai University directed it’s colleges to give grace marks to students in final-year online exams wherever required and in consultation with the lead colleges in their clusters. While giving grace marks in a multiple choice question (MCQ)-based exams may be contentious, many principals agree that it is necessary as students are appearing for an exam in a new format which will also be in the online mode.

While the Mumbai University is going by the books in allowing grace marks, it also needs to ensure the sanctity of the certifying exam is restored in the new format. With decentralisation of exams, it becomes all the more important for the university to monitor or have some kind of checks in place to ensure there are no malpractices. Smooth conduct of exams is important, but it is equally important for students to be competent in the course they are graduating in.

A college principal said, “When you have question papers based on descriptive answers, the success rate can help in deciding the difficulty level and therefore, in deciding the grace marks. In the MCQ format, the questions are mostly objective in nature, so grace marks may not be needed. But more than the difficulty level, it is important to address the fact that students are giving their certifying exams in such a format for the first time. Also, the exams are online, leaving scope for glitches. It is fair to give grace marks to students in this format, only the university could have issued a broader guideline to maintain some uniformity.”

A teacher from a suburban college said that students are scared of the exam pattern – “The MCQ exam is a completely different ball game—you either score full marks or zero for a question. We have not groomed our students in this exam format.”

She added, “Many students are calling up to seek revision. In all the government flip-flop that has happened over the last six months, they may have forgotten concepts. Some topics were taught in college nine months ago,” said the teacher, adding that they saw around 10 percent failures in the first few backlog exams and not many students have scored more than 40 out of 50 marks.

According to the university ordinance, statutory grace marks are given to students only if they clear the exams after giving it. The grace marks are not more than 1 percent of the aggregate marks and not more than five marks in any subject. Students participating in NSS, NCC and other inter-university cultural or sports programmes are also eligible for grace marks. However, what differs every year is the internal gracing given in different subjects.

Another principal said, “After answer sheets are evaluated and the draft results are prepared, internal grace marks are decided by examiners based on the difficulty level of the paper. If one subject in commerce sees a very low success rate, then examiners unanimously decide on a minimum grace mark. Now, since the question papers are framed by individual colleges, they are free to decide their own grace marks.”

Source: Times of India

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