Madras High Court Rules against Negative Marking in Competitive Exams

• Differentiating between ‘intelligent guessing’ and ‘wild guessing’ and stressing upon the need to encourage the former, the Madras High Court on Friday held that the practice of awarding negative marks in competitive examinations should be done away with.

• The court was of the view that deducting marks for wrong answers would not in any way help in analysing the intelligence, aptitude or knowledge of the candidates.

• Justice R. Mahadevan said, “Intelligent guessing is an art. It is very useful in our life. One cannot be sure about all things at all times. An individual will come across a situation where he/she has to decide an issue not merely based on his knowledge but with little guessing.While intelligent guessing requires an amount of prior knowledge on the subject, wild guessing is a decision taken just like that.”

• The judgment was passed while disposing of a writ petition filed in 2013 by S. Nelson Prabhakar, a Sceduled Caste student, who did not qualify for writing the Joint Entrance Examination (Advanced) for gaining admission into an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).

25 marks lost

• When his answer script was produced in the court, it revealed that the petitioner had actually scored 72 marks but ended up losing 25 of those marks due to negative marking system.

• Though the court had passed an interim order on May 30, 2013 permitting the student to write JEE (Advanced) subject to the result of the writ petition, he was not allowed to write the exam and therefore he joined a private engineering college and completed his course.

• When the case was taken up for final hearing now, the relief sought for had become infructuous. Nevertheless, the petitioner’s counsel A. Arulmozhi urged the court to give a finding on the necessity for negative marking.

• Accepting her plea, the judge ruled against the practice and ordered that his judgment should be communicated to National Testing Agency established by the Centre for conducting examinations for admission in higher educational institutions.

• He observed that every candidate could not be expected to know all answers for sure.

• In such circumstances, the practice of negative marking would hamper brain development and create a fear psychosis among students.

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Mains Paper 2: Education

Prelims level: Negative Marking in Competitive Exams

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