The Manipur Public Service Commission conducted one of the most controversial preliminary exams for entry into the esteemed state’s civil services this year. Most of the well prepared candidates were left in awe at the end of the exam. There were errors in the set of instructions at the first page of the question paper followed by typos like ‘Khuba Keishei’ and other questions which had multiple answers or no answers at all, which left the candidates confused. Rectifying these errors took time and created disturbances during the exam which needed mental readiness while answering the questions. The commission allotted another ten minutes at the completion of three hours to make up for the time wasted while correcting the above errors.
The attempt to make up for the time wasted here was in the first place not justified. It took several minutes for the invigilators to announce that there would be no negative markings for any wrong attempts. Once the confusion regarding negative markings was cleared (there are claims we see in newspapers that the confusion was not cleared in some exam centers), the commission seemed to have discovered another mistake in the spelling of ‘Khuba Keishei’. So, another correction followed. We, the authors if this write-up, are a group of friends/ aspirants, and we all gave exams in different centers; in some of our case, correction for this particular question was not made during the exam at all.
To add to the already confused state of mind of the candidates they went on discovering more mistakes which were to be rectified not in one go but at least three-four times by invigilators who took their own sweet time to write them down or announce them one after the other. This would have taken more than ten minutes obviously. It was clearly a sub-standard exam for a profession considered one of the most prestigious in the state.
Let us take, for reference, the ‘Series C’ of the question paper. The following errors could be observed as one goes through the questions:
MPSC error started from the very first page of the question paper. Instruction number 9: “There will be no penalty for wrong answers”. In its next line it says “For each question for which a wrong answer has been given by the candidate, one third (0.33) of the marks assigned to that question will be deducted as penalty.”
Question numbers 6, 7, 8: In the direction of the question, point number 1 says “A, B, C, D, E and F are six members in a family in which there are two married couples.” Then at point number 4, it says “4. C, A lady, is neither heaviest nor lightest in the family.” The same question can be found at www.edugoog.com in the right format; what MPSC have written as ‘A’ should be ‘a’, it should have been small letter not capital letter. It should have been printed as “4. C, a lady, is neither heaviest nor lightest in the family.” The capital letter “A” in our question paper gave a different meaning!!
Question number 19 in the same series reads “Find the odd one out of the following: (a) Infant (b) Doe (c) Kitten (d) Cub”. This question can have two answers, when seen from three angles. It can be ‘infant’ as well as ‘doe’. Angle 1: of the four options, only ‘infant’ is human, rest are animals. Angle 2: of the four options only ‘infant’ has two legs, rest have four legs. Angle 3: of the four options only ‘doe’ is female gender. Technically, those questions which could have two correct answers should not have been asked at all.
Question number 30: “Which part of the computer is used for calculating and comparing? (a) Disk Unit (b) Control Unit (c) ALU (d) Modem”. Answer in the answer key released by MPSC after the exam says the answer is “Control Unit”. The right answer should be “ALU”, it is the basic of computers that are even taught in school.
Question number 57: “Who was the founder of Bluetooth? (a) Apple (b) Steve Jobs (c) Martin Cooper (d) Ericsson.” MPSC’s answer key says the answer is “Ericsson”. Since Ericsson is a ‘company’, the use of ‘who’ is inappropriate, the question should have been asked as “Which” if they expected Ericsson as the answer. The answer options had names of persons, and the ‘Who’ in the question gave rise to doubt and confusion.
Question number 113: “What is Khuba Kishei?”. This was corrected during the exam as KHUBAK ESHEI in some centers, but not in some exam centers.
Question number 149: “The deposition of cholesterol on the walls of blood vessels causes the arteries to lose their elasticity and get stiffened. This is called: (a) Hypotension (b) Hypertension (c) Systolic Pressure (d) Arteriosclerosis”. The answer key released by MPSC says it is ‘Systolic Pressure’, whereas the answer should be ‘Arteriosclerosis’.
Question number 191: “Two dice are thrown together. What is the probability of getting 6 on both dice?” According to the MPSC’s key the answer is “1/12”, but by calculations the answer is “1/36”.
During the examination, a particular question (Question number 139) on economics was corrected by MPSC representatives and replaced the word “Depression” with “Stagflation”. It was quite obvious that the right answer of the four options should be “Stagflation”, as they came to correct it; if it was not the answer they would have not come to correct it. It was just common sense.
After all these corrections, the MPSC didn’t realize that there were more corrections to be made. Then a day after the exam, the answer keys were put up on the official website of the commission; the keys were again full of errors and invited clarifications from the candidates. Three questions were made invalid when the answer key was released and the secretary announced that grace marks would be allotted to candidates. The three questions that MPSC invalidated (Question numbers 15, 88 and 110) are not the ones we listed above; meaning more invalidation are expected to come still for the ones mentioned above.
Now, these questions were set to test the knowledge of the candidates but keeping in view of these errors the fairness of the exam is quite questionable. It cannot be said that every candidate would have given the correct answer for all the questions that became invalid after the exam. More questions are also being expected to be announced as invalid by MPSC. Where is the fairness then? Did this exam really test the eligibility of the candidates or was it an exam that tested one’s luck? Many of us who have been seriously preparing for this particular exam for years are pondering over this question with shattered hopes. To the respected Chairman, we pray sincerely that particular care be taken in setting the question papers. A difference of just one mark makes a lot of difference to us and grace marks are at all no way a solution for us.