The matter of the alleged leaking of the LUMS Common Admission Test (LCAT) is not any closer to being solved a week after the test was conducted.
The Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) Vice Chancellor Dr Adil Najam had earlier said that the management would “take action if provided with evidence”. After a few days of looking into the matter, he believes that there isn’t substantive proof that the test was leaked.
Meanwhile, the head of Mathematics at The Leads Academy (TLA), the preparatory centre that has been accused of leaking the LCAT, is threatening to take legal action against its competitors who he says are spreading “baseless allegations” using “cheap tactics”.
“It is ridiculous… an attempt to malign the institute,” said Mahmood Akram, who is listed as the TLA director on its website, while speaking with The Express Tribune. He denied that the academy had access to this year’s LCAT.
Akram who met with Dr Adil Najam two days ago said that Dr Najam had told him that there was no evidence of the LCAT being leaked.
He said that the students at the academy were tested with questions from previous years’ LCAT papers. Akram said that only 10 to 12 questions in a practice test that he had given to academy students were repeated in the actual LCAT.
Some students who claimed they had seen the TLA practice test – given to the students a week before the actual LCAT –told The Tribune, while speaking on condition of anonymity, that at least 57 questions in the practice test (some quoted a number as high as 70) out of more than 150 appeared in the LCAT.
“Questions do get repeated in such tests,” he said, stressing that there was “absolutely” no foul play involved. “It was a coincidence,” Akram said.
However, the head of Office of Admissions at LUMS, Rabia Ahmed told The Tribune that past LCAT papers were not made public. Arif Jalil Piracha, co-founder of another test preparatory centre, Smart Prep, said that when he set up his centre two years ago, he had requested LUMS to grant him access to old LCATs. Piracha says that he was told by the administration that university policy did not allow making past papers public. “I understand the policy,” Piracha said, “but then how does another preparatory institute have access to past papers?”
Akram had earlier said that past LCAT papers were “easily accessible” and used to help students prepare for the tests. Later, when asked about how exactly he had got them, he said that a student who had taken the LCAT in 2009/2010 had come to the academy after having attempted the test and shared the questions on the test. “We compose our test papers by using test books which are available openly in the market,” Akram said, adding that the books are used by several preparatory centres for composing test papers.
He told The Tribune, “The LUMS faculty do not make the test themselves. They choose the questions from test books. I did the same. We must have picked the questions from the same test book.”
Piracha from Smart Prep said that he had met Dr Najam on Wednesday and provided him with “evidence” that the paper was leaked. It was a copy of the practice test that Akram had given to his students a day before the test. Piracha said that Dr Najam had not been “satisfied”.
A high-ranking official in the administration, who did not want his name revealed, told The Tribune that LUMS was looking into how Akram had been able to access past papers. “That is the thing that concerns us the most,” said the source.
“Our concern is not with who leaked the paper but that if [the allegations are] true, several students were denied a fair shot,” Piracha said. He hoped that LUMS would consider retaking the LCAT.
“We want LUMS to address the issue immediately,” said one of the students who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The [practice] test [given at TLA] has been given to Dr Najam. What more proof do they want?”
Dr Najam told The Tribune that an investigation had not yet revealed any “wrong doing”. While refusing to comment on “any matters pertaining to private preparatory centres” Dr Najam said that the test would not be retaken unless the evidence was “compelling”. “We can’t base such actions on rumours,” he added. He refused to comment when asked if LUMS would take any legal action.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2012.