250 arrested in MDCAT test scandal

Three students reportedly paid Rs2.5m each and got +84 marks; while around 200 qualify it each year, this time more than 1000 obtained high marks in test

Peshawar  -  As many as 250 candidates have been apprehended in connection with the MDCAT test scandal in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, according to security officials.

Talking to The Nation, an anonymous official stated that approximately Rs4 million had been paid to facilitate cheating in the test, involving the importation of a Bluetooth device from China.

Also, reportedly three students paid Rs25 lacs (2.5 million) each and they succeeded in getting 84+ marks in the test. Also, more than 1500 students had used the same Bluetooth devices in different exam halls.

This incident marks the first occurrence of such an organised cheating scheme within medical college tests, raising concerns about the potential necessity for a re-conduction of the MDCAT test. The official further noted that typically, around 200 candidates successfully qualify for the test. However, this year, more than 1000 candidates have not only qualified but also achieved high grades, including A and A1 marks.

 A recent investigation into the Medical and Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT) scandal also uncovered that nine candidates were registered for the test using the same mobile phone number. Additionally, investigators found that a 46-year-old candidate had also registered for the MDCAT test.

Authorities have revealed that the Bluetooth device employed for cheating during the test comprises multiple components, one of which resembles a pen or card. A SIM card activates the device, and it has a charging port capable of providing up to eight hours of usage. A concealed earplug allows communication for cheating purposes. These devices, originally designed by a Chinese company for espionage, are also advertised for surveillance, VIP protection, and investigations, and can be purchased online for approximately $45 to $60.

 To combat cheating, invigilating staff had been instructed to activate Bluetooth on their phones during exams. They would stand near students and scan for any suspicious Bluetooth signals. Numerous students were discovered with similar Bluetooth devices, including concealed earplugs, used for cheating in exam halls in Peshawar, Mardan, and other areas.

Discussing the scandal, Dr Faisal from the Young Doctors Association pointed out that last year, fewer than 200 students scored 180 or above marks in the same test. However, this year, more than 1000 students have achieved such high marks, which has raised concerns. He emphasised that the only solution to this problem is to re-conduct the test and advocated for banning students caught cheating through this organised scheme from entering medical colleges nationwide.

 Furthermore, he suggested that there should be a standardised test for medical colleges across the entire province to address complaints of variations in test difficulty among different areas.

 It is worth noting that the court has already issued a ruling against further processing of the test and the release of its results.

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