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Entrance exam for university - a dilemma.

EVERY SUMMER hundreds of thousands of students around Pakistan get engaged in contemplating a smooth, steady, and rewarding transformation from college to university. They apply for admission at various seats of higher learning within the country and overseas. This dreary process involves not only the applicants but also their parents. Both the students and their parents go through an unnecessary monetary, emotional, and occasional ordeal in the process of reaching the right path to the academic destination and professional options of the youth.

Entrance examination can be used by any educational institution to select best quality students for its academic programs at any level of higher learning - from primary to higher. It is more common at higher levels, though. No doubt, this is an effective mechanism to standardize the selection of students by any educational institution. Entrance test system is available in many countries around the globe, for example in China - National Higher Education Entrance Examination, in Japan - National Center for University Entrance Examinations, and in most of the US universities the popular test of SAT is used for admission to undergraduate studies.

Pakistan, however, is amongst those few countries which have no standardized test system available; instead, every university takes its own entrance test for admission. Some of the universities feel pride in the number of students appearing in their test despite the level of difficulty of the test.

The NTS could be one of the best options available, but unfortunately NTS could not gain popularity because of reasons unknown. Absence of accessibility and availability of test in remote cities may be one of the major hurdles in its popularity. The quality and aptness of the tests administered by NTS might be another probable reason of its inefficacy.

The major issue for students and parents regarding this tedious task of going through university admission process is that universities are taking entrance test on different dates and timings. Appearing in test of each university requires a lot of finance which may not be affordable for some students. Universities with modest ranking and humble standards take entrance tests only for psychological satisfaction because they carry on with the admission process even after the test date. Students who come after the entrance test find it easier to get admission as compared to those who appear in entrance test of these universities.

We have made our education system so complex and difficult for students and parents to choose the right university. It would be in the interest of our education system if all universities make a unified test system across the country. The unified test should also be available to students in the remote areas so they do not need to travel. Some of the outstanding students in the rural areas of the country do not even know how and where to submit an application form. Some assistance in this regard is required too. None of the universities has made a statistical comparison to show how many brilliant students could not qualify their test; hence, there is no quality check of these tests.

My intent is not to criticize here the quality or authenticity of the entrance tests but to advocate an easy and cost-effective system where every eligible student could take part and show his/her talent. It would be in the interest of the country if all universities in a particular town or region make a generic university admission system where students make a single application indicating the order of preference for universities and academic programs. Students submit score of the unified test directly to the universities of their choice and/or send the same with the admission application forms. Universities will gauge the adequacy of students as per their requirement and capacities.

In this way the universities will continue exercising their right to set different levels/standards of scores to select students for the academic programs without compromising either on the interests of the students or their own quality parameters. I do not mean to undermine here a Chinese Education Minister's confession to Richard Nixon regarding the loss of many a Churchills and Newtons in the process of this merit-based eliminatory examination system.
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Publication:Technology Times
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Sep 4, 2013
Words:693
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