Is the PMC Finally Ready to Negotiate on the MDCAT Crisis?

PMC has been facing outlash in the midst of the MDCAT season. From internet connectivity issues as per PMC practice tests, incorrect answer keys, out-of-syllabus questions and operational issues with the online TEPS conducted exam; leading to a disproportionate number of fails this year. 

On 23rd September, 2021, a number of MDCAT aspirants met with the PMC (Pakistan Medical Commission) president at the PMC premises, Islamabad, to discuss these issues. The PMC released a notice following the meeting, outlining student grievances and demands, and retorting with their respective views on each grievance and further points of notice. 

Find the link for the PMC meeting document here:

It is safe to say the grievances of the students were not well-handled, and concerns largely invalidated. The issues were not treated with much sensitivity either, as were deftly summarized into three points by the PMC:

  1. Students claimed the internet at the centers was not well-functioning, leading to unrecorded, and subsequently, unscored answers. PMC responded with stating the examination was held on a wireless LAN, with a secure network. PMC stated in the observation release: “All the final answers submitted by each student at the end of the exam are uploaded to the server at each exam center through the local area network securely without exception”.
  2. System technical faults was another key concern verbalized by the students at the meeting resulting in skipped/edited unscored questions. In response to the query, PMC claimed that “only 0.13% of the total answers submitted by over 140,000 students … were marked as skipped or not attempted, purporting only 1 skipped/not attempted question for every 5 students.”
  3. Students spoke out about out-of-syllabus questions, especially in line with the newly introduced (a month before the exam) section: logical reasoning. In lieu of this grievance, PMC shared that the 2021 MDCAT syllabus was prepared by the National Medical & Dental Academic Board. For syllabus preparation, there were supposedly representatives of all provincial boards, the federal board and the IBCC “were invited” to ensure that a region-wide curriculum was adopted. Furthermore, the PMC stated: “the scope of the syllabus for the 2021 MDCAT is less than that of the  … 2020 MDCAT”, along with “a decrease in “the difficulty index compared to the 2020 MDCAT”, with only “10 questions out of the total 210 questions” in regards to the Logical Reasoning section

Students were not satisfied with the document. On social media, there was an uproar to the document released by the PMC, with the MDCAT aspirants sharing their sentiments. 

The student above shared that it is extremely unlikely that toppers would fail the MDCAT. A low score is also not very believable, but failing is out of the question. They accersicirized their tweet with the hashtags #WeRejectPmcMdcatTest2021 and #shameonpmc. 

The tweeter above also shared their thoughts, stating a lack of transparency in towards the claims put forth by the PMC, with the decision and clarification “politically motivated” and in need of “international forensic investigation”.

The above MDCAT aspirant took issue with the supposedly “easier” difficulty level the PMC outlined with the 2021 MDCAT examination, sharing that the syllabus mentioned “80% of test questions for 2021 are Moderate or Hard”. 

Influential lawyer and activist Mr. Jibran Nasir has also taken personal interest in the issue. In the tweet below, he pushed for the issue to the legal sphere, sharing that a petition against the MDCAT  and PMC policies was taken to the high court and the hearing is scheduled for two weeks after. 

Students have not just been relegating their concerns to social media or the law, but to the streets. MDCAT aspirants and doctors-to-be have been peacefully protesting for weeks, along with attempting to seek the attention of the Prime Minister, Imran Khan. 

Students are not the only ones speaking up against the injustices of the PMC and this year's MDCAT. Nearpeer is also taking a strong stand in support of the MDCAT aspirants.

Nearpeer co-founder, Ammar Ali Ayub, released a statement questioning PMC over the MDCAT results. Watch the full video here. He also wrote to the president of the PMC an open letter, attaching thousands of students' concerns and signatories in the process. To be a part of the change, you can fill out the form here. Sir Ammar also taught the MDCAT Logical Reasoning course for free on Youtube. Click here to check out the full course by Sir Ammar!

For years, Nearpeer has supported student concerns and demands when it comes to quality education in Pakistan. We still stand steadfast with the MDCAT aspirants. Stay tuned for more updates and share your thoughts in the comment box below.