The Common University Entrance Test (CUET)-UG will be conducted in three shifts this year instead of two and plans for its merger with crucial entrance exams like JEE and NEET will be announced at least two years in advance, according to UGC chairman M Jagadesh Kumar.
In an interview to PTI, Kumar said the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the National Testing Agency (NTA) are prepared to ensure that the second edition of CUET-UG is glitch free.
"I agree there were several glitches during the exam last time but this year all issues have been ironed out. Keeping in mind the experience of the students, a plan has been chalked out and we are ready to ensure that the candidates just have to worry about the exam and not any glitches," he said.
"Extra computers and extra centres have been arranged as plan B so that in case there are any glitches, the candidates can be shifted there and the exam for a particular shift will not be cancelled," he added.
Kumar said that in a deviation from the usual pattern, the exam will be conducted in three shifts from this year.
Asked about the proposal to merge CUET with engineering entrance exam JEE and medical entrance exam NEET, Kumar said, "It is definitely doable. The details are being worked out but whenever the merger happens, announcement will be made at least two years in advance so the students can prepare accordingly."
The UGC had in March last year announced that undergraduate admissions will be conducted in all central universities through a common entrance test and not on the basis of class 12 marks.
The debut edition of the CUET-UG was conducted in July last year and was marred by glitches, prompting the NTA to cancel the exam at multiple centres. While several students were informed about cancellation a night before the exam, many of them were turned away from centres.
The UGC chairman had then said the exam at certain centres have been cancelled following reports of "sabotage".
With 14.9 lakh registrations, the CUET, the common gateway for undergraduate admissions in all central universities, became the second biggest entrance exam in the country, surpassing JEE-Main's average registration of nine lakh.
"We have already received over 11.5 lakh registrations this year. The deadline has been extended till March 30 and we are expecting the applications to cross last year's number," Kumar said.
Asked about "normalisation" of scores which left several aspirants disappointed as they found their marks reduced from their original scores, making it difficult for them to get their dream college, he said efforts have been made to minimise any errors during the process.
"The schedule of the exam has been compressed this year to 10 days instead of over one and half month in order to minimise any errors in the normalisation as the variation is more when the exam is held over a bigger period of time," he said.
The normalisation formula using the "equipercentile method" has been decided by a panel comprising professors from Indian Statistical Institute, IIT Delhi and Delhi University.