Close to 1.4 million students are right now gearing up for the largest medical entrance exam for undergraduate courses in India – NEET 2019. A lot of aspects of preparations depend on the two features of exam which are reportedly yet to be finalized.

A month ago, it was announced that newly formed National Testing Agency (NTA) will hold NEET 2019 (and all NEET exams henceforth) as computer based test, twice a year. The first such exam was to be from February 3 to February 17, 2019. And second exam was to be from May 12 to May 26, 2019. Although some circles opposed it, largely it was accepted with positive reactions. Majorly this decision was accepted because it gave students two chances to do well in such a critical exam.

However just a month after the announcement, a news report came that the ministry of health had urged MHRD to reconsider this (August 10: MHRD to reconsider decision on NEET conduct). Several issues were cited as concerns with NEET 2019 online twice a year model.

How will rural students be prepared for the computer-based test?

Won’t there be too much pressure on class 12 students to appear in exams for 4-5 months continuously?

Which brings us to the question: Shouldn’t these have been considered before announcing the changes in NEET exam?

Cracking a medical entrance exam in India is no joke. 1.4 million students will compete for fewer than 60,000 seats. Most students cannot even go for allotted seats if it is a medical college with high fees. So the competition boils down to few thousand good government college seats.

In India, medical aspirants start preparing for entrance exams as early as class 8 (when they are merely 13 or 14 years old). There are so many who toil away in cities far away from homes, in coaching institutes, for 2-3 years. For students who are working so hard, dangling a pendulum above their heads, swinging back and forth on different decisions is unfair.

On one hand it can be argued that students should focus on preparation – after all, syllabus is same. Exam pattern is also not changing.

But it has to be understood that if NEET 2019 takes place twice a year, first in February and then in March, then many would like to speed up their preparation and give a good shot in February too. Also, if exam has to take place online, then students have to start practicing online mock tests.

For policy makers, it is a difficult road ahead.

NEET has notoriously been surrounded with controversies.

MCC had to put the second round of NEET counselling on hold for over three weeks due to multiple ongoing cases against erroneous questions in papers, quota, and other issues.

Last year the Tamil version of NEET question paper reportedly had 49 errors. Madras High Court had in turn ordered CBSE to award 196 grace marks to affected students, which was turned down.

Tamil Nadu has been vehemently opposing NEET.

With all that going around, NEET 2019 had to bring in major changes of changing mode of exam and frequency of conducting it. While students in most states were just coming to terms with the fact of having to face NEET as the only exam they can appear in, now they had to deal with these new rules.

Even then, after 7 July announcement, dust was just about settling down when 10 August news reports took everyone by storm.

NEET 2019: Latest News, Application Form, Exam Dates, Online/Offline

Sudden Changes In Medical Entrance Exams Are Like Unwelcome Guests

Medical entrance exams in India are forever undergoing change.

While it is increasingly important to have changes to avoid stagnation and keep moving ahead with changing needs of the system, abrupt changes are problematic.

How will a student, who is focusing on remembering his lessons and implementing them, keep a track of changing preparation schedule when suddenly frequency of exams is changed?

How will a student, who is attempting NEET exam for the third year consecutively, suddenly readjust his skills to computer-based test mode?

For a student who has attended classes sitting down on a floor mat, in a village school, get access to computers to prepare?

Will not a student who has 24×7 access to computers and technology be better equipped to deal with online tests?

There are so many questions that need wise answers. NEET 2019 going online twice a year was a heavy decision, which surely came through informed decisions, but needed better implementation.

When decision makers are eager to make changes because they had been discussing something for a long time, they also need to consider that those who are being affected were in the dark all along. Changing the exam from the immediate session is problematic.

Fate Of NEET 2019

10 August 2018 reports suggest that MHRD has been asked to consider to continue status quo of NEET for at least one year. In other words, NEET 2019 will be on similar lines as NEET 2018. It will be once a year and in pen and paper based test mode.

If one government body pressurizes another government body to do something, there are exactly 50% chances of that change happening. However 50% chances lie in favor of the change not happening. This is because both bodies have done some research to stand their grounds.

What will be the fate of NEET 2019 is not only awaited by 1.4 million students in India, but by all educationists.

Remember, if NEET decision is rolled back, do you think JEE Main decision will be allowed to be implemented by circle being affected by JEE Main 2019 changes?

NEET is not alone

Medical entrance exams in India are forever undergoing changes.

Last year, NEET PG was changed. It was changed from being a multi session exam to single day single session exam.

Now this year the government is also planning to do away with FMGE and merge it with NEXT. NEXT is another exam that is being considered, it will be an exit exam for medical students after their graduation.

Medical Education In India

As per information provided by Medical Council of India (MCI), there are a total 10,62,398 allopathic doctors registered with the State Medical Councils/MCI as on 31st December 2017. Assuming 80% availability, it is estimated that around 8.50 lakh doctors may be actually available for active service. It gives a doctor-population ratio of 1:1565 as per current population estimate of 1.33 billion. Besides, there are 7,73,668 registered practitioners of AYUSH in the country and 6.19 lakh AYUSH practitioners may be in active service on assuming their 80% availability. If the allopathic and AYUSH streams are considered together, it gives a doctor population ratio of 1: 905, which is better than the WHO norms.

~ Statement referred to in reply to lok sabha starred question no. 60* for 20th july, 2018.

Various steps taken to increase UG and PG Medical Seats In Modern Medicine

The ratio of teachers to students has been revised from 1:1 to 1:2 for all MD/MS disciplines and 1:1 to 1:3 in subjects of Anaesthesiology, Forensic Medicine, Radiotherapy, Medical Oncology, Surgical Oncology and Psychiatry. Further, teacher: student ratio in public funded Government Medical Colleges for Professor has been increased from 1:2 to 1:3 in all clinical subjects and for Asso. Prof. from 1:1 to 1:2 if the Asso. Prof. is a unit head. The same has also been extended to the private medical colleges with the conditions that it should be a standing of 15 years, running PG courses since 10 years, should have completed at least 1 continuance of recognition assessment satisfactorily and applies u/s 10A of the IMC Act, 1956 for increase of seats.This would result in increase in number of PG seats in the country.

DNB qualification has been recognized for appointment as faculty to take care of shortage of faculty.

Enhancement of maximum intake capacity at MBBS level from 150 to 250.

Relaxation in the norms of setting up of Medical College in terms of requirement for faculty, staff, bed/bed strength and other infrastructure.

Requirement of land for establishment of medical college in metropolitan cities, as notified under Article 243P(c) of the Constitution of India, has been dispensed with.

Strengthening/upgradation of State Government Medical Colleges for starting new PG courses/Increase of PG seats.

Establishment of New Medical Colleges by upgrading district/referral hospitals preferably in underserved districts of the country.

Strengthening/ upgradation of existing State Government/Central Government Medical Colleges to increase MBBS seats.

~ Statement referred to in reply to lok sabha starred question no. 60* for 20th july, 2018.

What are your views on the changing patterns in medical entrance exams in India? Should these changes be implemented at once or not?

1 COMMENT

  1. Neet should be strictly maintain and please stop allowing Ayush and homeo doctors for allopathy as this will create huge quackery in the medical system and don’t burden the MBBS students with extra burden like Exit Exam as MBBS students from India face huge challenge in their whole mbbs course!

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