The Grace Marks Controversy: A Tug of War in MDCAT

A significant controversy has erupted over the decision by the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) to award grace marks to all students in the Medical and Dental College Admission Test (MDCAT) if 90 percent of candidates fail to answer questions correctly. This contentious decision has sparked outrage among students, parents, and educational institutions alike.

The Education and Evaluation Testing Agency (ETEA), a key player in this dispute, has voiced its opposition to PMDC’s decision. ETEA argues that this policy unfairly disadvantages the 10 percent of students who answered correctly. In an official letter, ETEA emphasized the importance of upholding justice by not penalizing the high-performing minority.

In addition to the academic implications, this controversy has also led to financial losses for ETEA, amounting to Rs. 23 million. The losses were incurred due to the rescheduling of MDCAT from 27 August 2023 to 10 September. ETEA had pre-booked air-conditioned halls across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the exam and thus had to bear the expenses.

Moreover, ETEA had already booked 49 wedding halls for MDCAT in various cities when the exam date was changed. This logistical challenge has further complicated ETEA’s financial audits, as auditors may question the dual allocation of funds for MDCAT.

Government officials in Peshawar have criticized PMDC’s grace marks formula, deeming it ‘illogical and irresponsible’. Many anticipate legal challenges if the policy is implemented, with some hardworking students and parents vowing to take the matter to court.

ETEA has urged regional commissioners and authorities to crack down on individuals attempting to sell advance access to MDCAT questions. The agency implored candidates not to be misled by such tactics and to report any illegal activities to law enforcement.

This controversy has not only stirred up a debate about the fairness of the grading system but also highlighted the need for transparency and accountability in the conduct of such crucial examinations. As the situation unfolds, it remains to be seen how these institutions will resolve their differences and what impact this will have on the future of MDCAT.


Faaiz Amjad brings years of teaching experience to our education platform, offering practical strategies and insights to empower educators and learners alike.

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