Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Negative Marking System Cripples Students' Intuition, Kills Art Of Intelligent Guessing: Madras HC

"Intelligent guessing should be permitted and encouraged, as it would help the students in their future life, whereas, the attempt of CBSE in awarding negative marks would totally eradicate the habit of intelligent guessing." The Madras High Court has observed that system of negative marking system in competitive examinations requires reconsideration and has to be done away with. Justice R. Mahadevan, while disposing of a petition filed by Nelson Prabhakar observed that the very system of awarding negative marks is improper and against the principles of fairness, equality and equity. The judge said that this system does not, in anyway, helps the examiner to analyse the intelligence, aptitude or knowledge of the students in any manner. 

The writ petition filed by Nelson sought for a direction to CBSE to revalue his answer sheets of the Physics and Mathematics of JEE (Main) 2013. Even though the court had granted him an interim order permitting him to write the JEE Advance Level examination, he was not allowed by to take part in the examination on the ground that no order was communicated.

Though the writ petition became infructuous, Nelson's lawyer (Advocate A. Arulmozhi) urged the court to address his concerns against negative marking system. Citing examples of system followed in various countries and also in CMC, Vellore, he sought for a direction to the CBSE to withdraw / strike down the method of negative marking. CBSE defended the system stating that object of having negative marks in the competitive examination is to ensure that only diligent and deserving candidates get selected for admission in the colleges offering professional courses, which cannot be found fault with. Justice Mahadevan agreed with Nelson's counsel and opined that negative marking is a source of discouragement in the minds of the student. Terming 'intelligent guessing' as an art, the judge said that it should be permitted and encouraged. The court also observed that the threat of negative marks will never allow intuition to grow in a student and it also makes the student approaches every question with an element of fear. The court further observed that there is no scientific proof in support of negative marking system that it helps to choose best candidates from the competitive examination. The court also observed that most advanced countries like the UK, Canada, Australia and Russia have stopped the practice of negative marking. Even in India, the renowned CMC, Vellore, one of the best colleges in the field of medicine, does not award negative marks in their entrance examination for admission to medical college, the judge said. As an alternative to negative marking system, the court suggested that the number of alternatives in each question from which the candidates have to choose the correct answer, can be increased. Following are some observations made by Justice Mahadevan in the judgment.

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