Take time out from your research work to mug up facts — something that university education taught you to unlearn. This sums up what the new format of the UGC-NET, the eligibility test for lectureship, means to students.
The exam is a “microcosm of all that is wrong with the education system”, says Sunalini Kumar, a professor at Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi.
Designed in the, the exam has three papers. The paper on ‘teaching and research aptitude’ is common to all subjects. The questions on teaching reflect the belief that there is one right way of doing things, even though the point of a University classroom is its dynamic nature. For instance, it will ask what should you do with a student who keeps on asking questions in class — the answer has to be chosen from four options. Besides, on what basis is the correct answer decided is debatable. The paper also tests mathematical and logical reasoning, data interpretation and reading comprehension.
The second and third papers are subject specific. They have matching columns, arranging terms in sequence, reason and assertion questions. Within subjects, one kind of aptitude, not requiring analysis is privileged. For instance, public administration and foreign policy related questions dominate political science paper, said Kriti Budhiraja, an M Phil student at JNU.
The UGC exam is also crucial because the Junior Research Fellowship, the scholarship given to those who top the NET, is one of the few funding options available within the system.
Subir Dey, who is doing PhD in history at JNU, explains that even though you specialize in one period — Ancient, Medieval or Modern history — at the research level, the paper expects you to know details taken out of context about other specializations.
The result? Despite repeated attempts, most students are unable to clear the exam and are left frustrated.