Normalised scores in CUET disregard difficulty level of different subjects, say students

Many Delhi University aspirants say the system does not provide a fair comparison, but admissions officials say the scores are better because percentiles cannot be added.

Many Delhi University aspirants say the system does not provide a fair comparison, but admissions officials say the scores are better because percentiles cannot be added.

The grading scheme used in the Common University Entrance Test (CUET) has caused concern among some students. One concern of students is that the “normalization” of grades will not allow for a comparison between two different subjects, which puts students at a disadvantage who, in addition to Hindi, have also appeared for mathematics and physics.

Sejal Singh, a student who wants to enter Delhi University said, “I am applying for B.Sc. (Honours) in Mathematics at Delhi University and I converted 96 percentiles in Mathematics into 115 points. Since I have a science background, my minor is physics, in which I converted 99.8 percentiles to 168 points.” She added, “But another student with a business background who applied for the same course and instead of physics for Business administration appeared, has made 174 points from a lower percentile of 91. This means that my competitor has more points than me even though I did better in a difficult piece of work.”

She claims that despite a 97.7 percent score, she has an overall score of 631 out of 800, while many lower percentile humanities scholars have scored more than 700. As per the admission criteria for different courses set by Delhi University, students are required to submit their best score in three or four subjects depending on the program they apply to.

University Grants Commission (UGC) head M Jagadesh Kumar said last week universities across the country would produce merit lists for student admissions using “normalized” scores issued by the National Testing Agency (NTA) instead of Raw scores are issued.

“Normalization” is a way of comparing one student’s grades to another when an examination in the same subject is held in multiple sessions, each with a different paper, to ensure fairness. In essence, what this method does is that, for a given percentile value, it calculates the average of the corresponding values ​​on different days. If no student in a given stratum has achieved a given percentile, linear interpolation is used to obtain a corresponding score for the missing grade.

However, many prospective students say that a normalized score does not provide a fair comparison between two different subjects and therefore percentiles would have been a better parameter.

Archisha Nigam, who plans to pursue a BA (Hons) in Political Sciences at Delhi University, says: “Science students have been disadvantaged as they get lower scores despite having higher percentiles and are penalized for changing majors and taking on the competition by students from humanities or business.”

A group of nearly 30 students have written to Delhi University Vice Chancellor Yogesh Singh, Admissions Dean Haneet Gandhi and Chancellor Vikas Gupta on the subject.

Another student said that using his Hindi score when applying to colleges would embarrass students like him, as the CUET-UG result shows that a larger number of students do better in English.

“I want to apply for Bachelor in Management Studies at DU and I want to use my Hindi score in my best of four because I had a higher percentage. But even though I do better in Hindi, I have a lower score. I have 98.67 percentile in Hindi and a score of 183 out of 200, while a similar percentile in English gives a score of 195 out of 200, which means English was an easier job,” says Gaurav Garg.

Sahil Singh, another student aspiring to study at DU, says, “Students at 100 percent should be treated equally in all subjects, but the current system doesn’t.”

The result explained by CUET shows that in high-scoring subjects such as math and physics, only 0.03% and 0.02% of students, respectively, achieved a 100th percentile, while 5.9% of the students who showed up for psychology achieved a 100th -percentile and 1.95% got the highest score in Political Science, 1.6% in English. Also in Hindi only 0.4% had the top percentile.

But DU’s Dean of Admissions, Haneet Gandhi, explains why university percentiles cannot be used to create a list of merits.

“Admission to study at the DU is not based on a student’s performance in one subject, but on a combination of three to four subjects. Percentiles are created on an ordinal scale and cannot be added. You cannot perform arithmetic operations on percentiles. So we need markers to do the addition. Additionally, some courses need a split where you only give 25% of the weight to a particular subject,” Ms Gandhi said. But she agrees that the method “provides parity only within a subject. And there is a debate about how to equate different subjects.”

Prior to CUET, colleges created their cut-off lists based on the percentage of the top four students who applied to a particular course at their college and based on their past experience. Students who have changed their stream face a 2.5% penalty.

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