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This article, like many others, was first published exclusively for long-term supporters, 1 hour before everyone else got to read it.

CLAT open to ‘revise, redesign’ after anti-cheating tech leaves online mock exam takers slightly shaken

The CLAT mock exam software prevented students from changing or adding answers to questions once a section was complete

The CLAT 2020 mock: Working but potentially also still work in progress that may be improved
The CLAT 2020 mock: Working but potentially also still work in progress that may be improved

The Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) 2020 had rolled out its mock exams today to registered students and apparently it is still a work-in-progress that may take feedback of students’ on board.

One particular unwelcome surprise for students taking the mock may have been that, unlike a paper-based or other computer-based exams, the system prevented several standard exam-taking and optimisation techniques.

For one, the order of sections (English, current affairs, legal reasoning, logical reasoning and quantitative techniques) could not be changed, but sections had to be taken in only that order.

“This means that no student could chose his/her pattern as per his strengths or weakness,” commented Dr Shashank Singhal, who is an advocate of the Allahabad high court who has been teaching CLAT aspirants for 10 years. “The CLAT exam has fixed the order as English - GK- Legal - Logical - Quants. This means, that the individual preference of the student is diluted and the authorities are imposing a pattern on each student which would suit a section of students and maybe, none.”

Second, once a section has been completed (or not, if a candidate has left some answers blank hoping to get to them later), the current software explicitly warned students before moving onto the next section that “you cannot revisit and edit your responses upon submission”.

Singhal explained that this had two consequences, in particular. “Once we attempt the first section (English) and move on to the second section (GK), we cannot visit the first section again. Therefore, any number of questions, which are marked for review, can’t be reviewed by the students, which in itself fails the purpose of an online exam.”

“The second drawback is that a student who is taking the exam is expected to be good at the sections asked in the exam and not in astrology,” he added. “Herein, the authorities are expecting the student to predict the toughness of the subsequent sections and thereby decide the time given to a preceding section beforehand.

“This is balderdash, nonsensical and the most weird mode of online exam conducted ever by any examination authority.”

“Consider a situation, if a student has 30 minutes left for the last two sections i.e. Logical Reasoning and Quants,” Singhal explained. “He decides to solve Logical first and then Quants in the last 15 minutes, and Quants turns out to be a very tough section, while on the other hand, some other student goes all out in Logical and gives less time to Quants, and Quants, being tough wouldn’t give him any marks. The latter student will be benefiting manifold. It is hugely unfair.”

CLAT may do iterative re-design

We contacted several members of the CLAT consortium, one of whom responded under condition of anonymity, saying: “This is precisely why we did the mocks. We will revise and redesign iteratively.”

“We have to balance anti cheating/integrity measures and convenience” the official added. “So review options and section order options will be based on feedback and evidence.”

The second CLAT mock exam is scheduled for 24 July.

“It is the most weird mock/paper pattern for online exams I have seen in the last ten years,” commented Singhal. “The new pattern is weird, nonsensical and above all, highly unfair.”

One way street: Once a section has been done, there is no return
One way street: Once a section has been done, there is no return

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