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CLAT mentor Rajneesh Singh addresses some of the rumours and fears surrounding this year's law entrance exams.
Is there a risk of cheating associated with the conduct of this year's All India Law Entrance Test (AILET) and Law School Admission Test (LSAT)? Are the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) and Symbiosis Law Admission Test (SLAT) putting students under risk of infection?
Rather, these are the best ways of conducting exams this year, and will set the trend for the future. Students need not worry and believe baseless apprehensions and rumours.
In the notifications of CLAT and AILET, while justifying their claim to select the modes of Computer-Based Test (CBT) and Remote Proctored Test (RPT) respectively, there has been unintentional criticism of the other mode of exam. This acted as a catalyst in creating lots of apprehensions. I think they should have refrained from speaking about the other mode of exams.
My dear CLAT takers, I will disabuse you of your false notions in this regard and try to make you understand that these matters are to be ignored. Trust the reliable and highly experienced organisations like LSAC, National Testing Agency (NTA) etc (CLAT and SLAT agency names will not be disclosed, but I am sure they must have hired the best).
CLAT and SLAT will be a CBT at a designated test centre, under the best hygiene conditions. NLU Delhi and LSAC will be conducting AILET and LSAT as a purely online exam at a place decided by the student under invigilation by AI, and most likely also manually.
These have emerged as new modes of testing, with the advancement of new technology. Since the online testing mode still does not have the stability of paper-based tests, lots of terms and names have been emerging, which are often getting overlapped and wrongly named. Therefore, when several names of these tests are coined or selected, mostly one is not able to communicate everything about the exam.
Let us understand this more deeply.
Online, in a generic sense, refers to when an electronic device is on and connected to other devices, such as another computer, a network, or a device such as a printer. More recently, the term "online" has come to mean connected to the internet. In this case, either a person may be online when he or she is using the internet, or the computer itself may be said to online when it has established an internet connection.
In simple terms, it is a test taken with the help of a computer. These tests can be delivered online via the internet or using specific computer systems in a facility.
A proctor is an individual who oversees an exam and monitors students during a formal assessment. The proctor has a significant effect on the validity of the exam and ensures honesty and integrity during the invigilation process. In case a student violates the code of conduct, the proctor reports it to the institution without delay.
(a) Remotely Proctored Test (RPT)
Online remote proctoring is a feature that enables proctors to extend their reach beyond geographical boundaries, allowing them to assess candidates from any location. This is subject to the availability of a computer and a high-speed internet connection. Combining technologies like online monitoring software and video streaming with the conventional methods of invigilation can work wonders to keep cheating and other unfair activities at bay.
For a RPT, AI (Artificial Intelligence) is mostly used, but (remote) manual proctoring can be also exercised for controlling malpractices.
(b) Live Proctored
This is conducted at the designated exam centre where it is under manual invigilation.
All these online mode of tests have huge advantages for students as well as test conducting agencies and institutions. If the online mode is looked at in a positive frame of mind, it is actually better than the offline mode.
Extremely fast Navigation: The navigation from one section to another and from one question to another is amazingly fast.
Extreme quickness in marking answers: For marking or changing the answer, this mode is much quicker in comparison to the OMR sheet marking system.
Flexibility in test delivery: Administration and distribution of a computer-based test can be managed to suit the unique testing needs of the examination board. It may be a one-day test distribution, any time test distribution or anything in between, depending upon the administrative approach and testing strategy.
Improved candidate reach: Delivered via the internet or a specific computer, a CBT test online helps remove the geographical barriers and reach more candidates. Thus, the online test saves time, money and effort of the candidates as well as the examining authority.
Enriched results analysis: Unlike pen-and-paper testing that captures only the candidate’s responses, a computer-based test can gather plenty of valuable information. Data such as start and end time, break periods, time spent on each item, group, section and on the overall test, the sequence of questions answered, and of course, the candidate responses, are readily available. This information helps in arriving at a better judgment about the candidate.
Streamlined process: Paper-based testing involves a lot of preparation, starting months prior to the exam date. Tasks such as securing facilities, hiring invigilators, designing and printing of the test papers and ensuring their security and storage to maintain the exam's integrity, keep the exam administrators on their toes before the exam. Once the exam is over, retrieval, scanning and marking of the test papers, analyzing, preparing and delivering the result occupy the entirety of the exam bodies. Many of these tasks can be automated and the processes can be improved to free up the administrators to concentrate on important tasks.
Quick delivery of results: The possibility of instant scoring, especially in the case of multiple-choice question-based exams, help the exam body prepare and deliver results quickly.
Test integrity: Remote proctoring and other security features make computer-based testing extremely secure, allowing for the test integrity to be maintained.
Helpful for candidates with disability: Screen readers, magnification tools, text-to-voice and voice-to-text applications, Braille keyboards and other such tools help differently-abled candidates take the tests more conveniently, in comparison to a pen-and-paper test.
Spread of COVID-19: We are now in unlocking phase. Gradually, all kinds of work have been starting and people are coming out for essentials. We have already learned a lot about how to work in the COVID days, which are here to stay for a long period. We must assume that everyone around us can potentially have the virus. The moment we assume this, we will take all precautions and remain safe.
Burden and risk of travel: CLAT has wisely announced 203 possible exam centres. This will surely cover all candidates, and people can travel in their own vehicles or hired ones that are completely sanitised.
Hygiene at the centre: CLAT chose a CBT for minimizing the logistical involvement. Computers and furniture can be sanitized fully and easily by spraying. In case of a paper-based test, sanitization would have been difficult.
CLAT is ready to invest heavily and keep all exam centres fully sanitised. There will be sanitization gates and I am sure all persons entering will be tested for Coronavirus. Apprehensions about any examinee being asymptomatically positive can be curbed if all students maintain social distancing and are seated accordingly. If the toilets are sanitized after every use and all exam rooms and walking spaces are completely sanitised with proper spraying, then it will become completely safe.
Practice of unfair means: Let us have trust in organisations like LSAC and NTA. LSAC and GMAC are the among the two best testing agencies in the world. NTA, which conducts NEET and IIT-JEE, is the most respected Indian testing agency. Recently, it conducted the Sports Authority of India exam successfully through RPT.
LSAC conducted LSAT (North America) in March this year as a fully online test that could be taken from the candidates' location of choice. This was done for the first time and successfully.
Moreover, LSAC has a fantastic AI system and for LSAT India, they will also use manual proctors remotely as well as at the locations of the candidates, if required. LSAT has a huge question bank, and they make sure that none of the papers are the same. (LSAT India will have various slots).
LSAC says that the test will stop the moment any candidates tries to manipulate the system or try to cheat.
Access to good quality computers: Candidates can always hire or take the help of relatives or friends. They can move to a better location if they want to.
Network problems: I have experienced that in some villages, internet is faster than it is in cities. But some of them have poor network. However, there is enough time to make arrangements. The best part is that in case the test cannot be conducted due to some problem, then it can be conducted again at the same level, but different questions.
Note - These four exams discussed above, along with CET Maharashtra, are must-take exams for each one of you. Qualifying through these exams will make you eligible to be considered at the top 20 law colleges in India. At least top 14 NLUs and ILNU Ahmedabad via CLAT (need around 1600 AIR to get through) are extremely well established and performing well. `
Entrance to NLU Delhi, the fourth most popular option after NLSIU, NALSAR and WBNUJS, is via AILET. NLU Delhi has been rated the second best law college in India after NLSIU as per NIRF ranking.
Jindal Global Law School, like NLU Delhi, in a noticeably short period, galloped to the top spots. JGLS has been ranked one in India, as per QS World Ranking (101-150 world rank). JGLS takes only the LSAT India score for admission, making LSAT a must-write exam for all. LSAT India score is also considered by more than 100 other law schools.
Symbiosis Law School is the second oldest brand after NLSIU for the 5-year law course. St least SLS Pune and Noida are definitely very good choices after the top 10 NLUs. SLAT is the combined exam for these law schools.
GLC Mumbai is another top college which must be considered after top 10. CET Maharashtra is the exam for entry into the same.
Post your queries here, I will answer them. Wishing you all good luck.