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CLAT consortium: Couldn’t ‘assure high integrity’ home proctored exam, issues include ‘bandwidth, connectivity’

In a live Q&A on YouTube about the 2020 Common Law Admission Test (CLAT), one of the CLAT co-ordinators and NLSIU Bangalore vice chancellor Prof Sudhir Krishnaswamy, answered some questions and specifically why the CLAT did not opt for a proctored online exam to be taken at home, in contrast to NLU Delhi and the LSAT-India.

The reasoning is relevant, since NLU Delhi, which runs the competing All India Law Entrance Test (AILET), had on 2 July published a thinly veiled attack on the CLAT‘s chosen mode of conducting its exam, basically implying that the CLAT consortium’s approach would outright endanger the lives of students and families due to the pandemic.

On 26 May we had already published the extended case made by the CLAT consortium (via CLAT 2020 convenor and DNLU Jabalpur VC, Prof Balraj Chauhan) against an entirely online exam, but we had not received a comment on NLU Delhi’s criticisms.

However, Krishnaswamy revealed in this latest video Q&A from two days ago (7 July) that the CLAT VCs had in fact run “elaborate” tests on home proctored exams and then decided against it.

“We have actually elaborately tested and evaluated the option of conducting exams, home proctored and so on,” he said. “And let me just say that despite engaging carefully with the technology and test in this at feasible scale, we found that the range of constraints that we have with respect of bandwidth and connectivity, means that we cannot assure a quality exam of high integrity.

“Hence we have to do it at centres.”

Nevertheless, the logistics of moving physical exam papers all over the country despite Covid-19 had necessitated running this as an exam where the paper would be delivered via a computer, online, directly to the test centre, said Krishnaswamy.

While he did not name the technology the CLAT consortium was using, he said that “the interface we will develop will be used by several national exams” and was a “tried and tested interface” and they would try to ensure it was as close as possible to a pen and paper exam, despite being on a screen.

He reiterated that the currently announced dates of a 10 July application deadline and a 22 August were still on (expectedly, of course, there’s a but).

“As things stand, the dates announced will hold, if there is any reason to change these dates, we will notify you in due course,” he said.

The full 30 minute video is available on YouTube (or embedded below) and LiveLaw has a good summary of the main other points discussed.

Primarily, most of those reiterate and reassured students about the safety measures been announced by the CLAT consortium on 30 June, including:

  • isolation test centres for those showing symptoms,
  • trying to increase the number of test centres from 200,
  • aiming to assist students who may be unable to travel out of containment zones by liaising with local governments and authorities.

Repeated comments (or potential trolling) in the live chat under the video calling for CLAT to be postponed (or cancelled), were not directly addressed.

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