HRD rolls back decision to hold NEET online, twice a year

New Delhi August 22

THE HRD Ministry on Tuesday withdrew its decision to conduct the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) online and twice a year from 2019.

The entrance examination, which is the gateway for admissions to medical institutions across the country, will be held as a pen-and-paper test and only once next year, on May 5, the ministry announced in a statement.

Addressing a press conference on July 7, Javadekar had announced that the newly formed NTA would now conduct national- level entrance examinations — NET, NEET, JEE (Mains) — that were organised by the CBSE. According to the examination calendar released by him, JEE (Mains) would be held in January and April and NEET was supposed to be conducted in February and May. National Eligibility Test or NET would be conducted in December.

On August 10, The Indian Express reported that there was a rethink in case of NEET after the Health Ministry sent a letter to the HRD Ministry — within three days of Javadekar’s press conference — stating that the public announcement on the NEET was made “without formal consultation”.

In its letter, the Health Ministry listed eight problems that it anticipated because of Javadekar’s announcement. Apart from concerns that a test in online mode would put poor and rural students at a disadvantage, the Health Ministry had a problem with the examination calendar announced for the NEET.

“It is proposed that the NTA would conduct exam in February and May. Typically, Class 12 students also appear in the Board exams during February-March period. This would suggest a continuous period of 4-5 months of exams for the students and may add to the pressure on students,” the Health Ministry’s letter states.

“The NTA would have to maintain a large question bank to cater to the proposed pattern… With 16 sessions in a year, the bank is likely to be depleted of novelty very early. A potential misuse could be coaching centres fielding dummy candidates in every session to note the questions,” the letter also stated.