The critical decisions on whether to hold NEET 2021 in online mode, and twice a year will be taken today, as per latest reports.
Key members of National Testing Agency (NTA), Ministry of Education (MoE), and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) shall, or perhaps already are, meeting today to take these decisions. It may be noted that until last year, NEET was held offline and once a year only.
This year, demands have been rising from students’ side, to hold the national medical entrance exam twice a year and in online mode. These demands have arisen after JEE Main 2021, India’s largest engineering entrance exam, was converted to four times a year model; the said exam was already converted to a completely online model in 2019.
The logic behind converting the JEE Mains exam to four times a year model was necessitated by the uncertainties in board exam dates, and concerns on students being indisposed to take exam due to health reasons brought upon by the last year’s pandemic. The first issue on point being the fact that while every year board exams usually begin in February and end by March or April for class 12 students who take the JEE, and NEET; this year different boards are holding exams at different times due to the issues of non-reopening of schools, syllabus completion concerns, and other factors. Likewise the other problem that four times a year JEE Mains solves is that if in case a student falls ill on a certain exam date, then he or she will not waste a year and can take exam on another date.
These same issues will be solved in the case of NEET 2021 too – if it is held online, and at least twice a year if not four times. That is to day NEET aspirants will also not be at the mercy of board exam dates that may clash or be very near to their entrance exam date. And likewise their health issues will not deter them from becoming doctors in the future.
Besides these decisions, it is anticipated that exam date of NEET 2021, and dates for its application form submission too will be announced. Whether that will be today or not is not certain. It was exactly 15 days ago that the Education Minister, Dr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank had told India TV, a news network, that NEET 2021 dates will be announced in 10-15 days. As per that, the dates should be announced today. However until now there have not been any concrete follow up reports on the matter.
Last year, 15,93,452 students had applied for NEET. Even amidst the pandemic, 85-90% students had turned up for the exam. The exam conducting body NTA had increased the number of test centers from 2546 to 3843 to initiate social distancing measures. For this year’s JEE Main 2021, around 11 lakh have applied.