The results of the first-ever Common University Entrance Test for undergraduate courses (CUET-UG) was declared on Friday, unveiling a drastically new scoring and assessment system that left experts divided on whether it would bring back the possibility of sky-high score cut-offs or instead help streamline the college admissions process.
A total of 21,159 hundredth percentile scores were recorded, but only a dozen students could be considered the key toppers for the exam: they were in the hundredth percentile in five subjects. Of these, seven were girls.
The second band of toppers was of those that scored in the hundredth percentile in four subjects, of whom there were 104.
The results, first meant to be released on Thursday night, were finally published online on Friday with National Testing Agency officials citing large volumes of data having led to technical difficulties. The announcement now paves the way for admission to begin in 90 participating universities.
While the percentile represents the relative performance of a student — being in the hundredth percentile means they were virtually better than 100% of the others (this number is in reality likely to be a minute decimal point away from 100) — a second metric will determine college admissions: the “normalised score”.
Since the CUET was held over multiple days and sessions, students sat for the same subjects in different shifts, with different questions. The normalised score is a process in which any difference in difficulty levels between these shifts is statistically removed to make the performance of all students comparable, irrespective of which specific questions they attempted.
While the CUET scorecards issued by the National Testing Agency mentions percentile as well as normalised scores of the candidates, the University Grants Commission said on Friday that it will be the normalised scores that will be taken into account for admissions.
Of the 21,159 100th percentile subject scores, most were in English (8,236) followed by Political Science (2,065), Business Studies (1,669), 1,324 in Biology and 1,188 in Economics. The 21,159 number represents multiple hundredth percentile scores being counted separately even if attained by the same student.
“I am eagerly looking forward to getting admission at Lady Shri Ram College for Women, New Delhi. It has always been my childhood dream to study undergraduate with political science from this prestigious institution,” said Sania Jamal from Lucknow, who was in the hundredth percentile in four subjects — English, History, Political Science and Psychology.
The debut edition of CUET-UG was conducted in six phases between July 15 and August 30 across 489 examination centers located in 259 cities across India and 10 cities abroad in a process often marred by technical glitches.
A total 1,490,000 candidates registered for the examination that witnessed 60% consolidated attendance in all six phases.
Among the students who were in the 100th percentile in five subjects, were Kushu Sharma from Haryana, Apeksha Sehgal and Priyanshi Choushary from Delhi, Sneha Dey and Sahaana Ramesh from Uttar Pradesh, and Tamnay Singh Bhadawat and Ansh Gattani from Rajasthan.
According to NTA data, the maximum number of candidates scoring 100 percentile in four subjects were from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Chandigarh and Assam.
Humanities subjects had more 100 percentile scores than science subjects. In mathematics, only 82 students were in the hundredth percentile, while in Physics, this number was 59 and in Chemistry 156.
Sudha Acharya, chairperson of the National Progressive School Conference (NPSC) — which has more than 120 Delhi schools as its members — said, “We are back to square one. So many students have 100 percentile leading to high cut offs, the same as the board exam,” he said.
But an official said such parallels cannot be drawn. NTA director general Vineet Joshi said: “We cannot compare the class 12 toppers with these 100 percentile scorers. Here, these 21,159 candidates have scored 100 percentile in one or two subjects. Only 104 students have 100 percentile in four subjects and just 12 have 100 percentile in five subjects. When the universities will consider their best of four subject performance, the merit will not go that high as earlier. Universities do not enrol students on the basis of students’ marks in individual subjects. They consider the best of four or the best of three subjects.”
Officials at DU also backed Joshi’s argument. Manoj Khanna, principal of Ramjas College, which announced a 100% cut-off for admissions to political science, physics and BA programme last year, said that the entrance will help tackle the problem of over admission that colleges grappled with in the previous cutoff-based process.
“Every year, colleges would end up admitting twice or thrice the number of students. This is a new experiment but the possibility of over admission is over to a large extent,” said Khanna.
In gender-wise performance, more female candidates (12,799) were in the hundredth percentile than male candidates (8,360) in at least one subject.
Of the 21,159, 15,373 were from general category, 1,119 EWS category, 3,547 OBC, 859 SC and 261 ST categories.
The CUET-UG was the largest entrance exam of the country with over 54,000 subject combinations that the candidates could choose. Students were allowed to take an exam in a maximum of nine subjects including six domain subjects.
According to NTA, 2,219 question papers and 50,476 questions were prepared by about 1,240 subject experts.
A section of students said their CUET scorecards reflected lower marks than they calculated based on the answer keys issued by the NTA last week due to the normalisation process. “The normalisation policy dropped my score by nearly 20%.” said Aman, an undergraduate aspirant from Uttar Pradesh.
UGC chairperson Jagadesh Kumar said, “Normalisation of marks using equi-percentile method causes neither benefit nor loss of marks to the students. Since they are writing in different sessions and the difficulty levels are different, even if they got the same marks in two different sessions, when the difficulty levels are taken into account, the normalised marks will be different.”
“Students need not worry about these differences as the CUET normalisation formula was decided by a panel of experts from Indian Statistical Institute, IIT Delhi and Delhi University. Universities can use these normalised marks for preparing the rank lists for admissions,” he said.