Most entrance exams, including JEE Main (April) 2021, have been postponed amid the COVID-19 surge cases across the country. But those appearing for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test-Undergraduate (NEET-UG) seem to be worried for want of updates on the medical entrance exam. While it was announced last month NEET-UG 2021 will be held on August 1, there has been no update about the application process or any other details since then.
Rashmi Prabha, 20, said that NEET had been in various controversies over the past few years for changing rules and it was high time the officials shared further information regarding the exam for the sake pf clarity to the aspirants.
“The exam date was announced on March 12 and the National Testing Agency (NTA) was to release the eligibility criteria and application forms soon. But we have no information about the syllabus and the pattern of the papers. Due to the current coronavirus situation, the exam should be conducted in September like last year. We are worried because we do not want the exam to be cancelled, like the class 10 boards, as it is the only way to get into any MBBS course,” said Rashmi, who completed class 12 in 2019 from Nazareth Academy in Gaya, Bihar.
She has already dropped one year because of the high cut-offs and she could not make it by a few marks.
Another NEET aspirant, Chimia Sadat from Kolkata, said, “I also want the exam to be postponed by at least a month, until the situation gets better. Students are under a lot of psychological pressured owing to the grave coronavirus situation in the country.” Chimia skipped the exams last year as she had measles and did not want to take a chance with contracting COVID-19 in the exam hall due to weak immunity. Now, she is afraid to lose another academic year.
As the whole year of 2020 went into a nationwide closure of educational institutes and coaching centres, students are expecting some relaxation in the NEET-UG syllabus, paper pattern and evaluation methodology.
Dr RK Bhimwal, Professor, SK Government Medical College, Sikar, while highlighting the shortage of doctors amid the current pandemic, said that the country should be well-prepared for future challenges. “Delaying even one year of medical entrance exams can cause a huge shortage of doctors in the future as every batch is important. Conducing NEET-UG in offline mode is going to cost a huge deal as the chances of virus spread are very high. To avoid any kind of academic loss, the authorities must try to figure out a way to conduct the exam in online mode. That is the only way forward,” said Bhimwal.
Parijat Mishra, head of career counselling, Allen Career Institute, Kota, said that the government has already announced that there will be no cut in the syllabus for NEET-UG 2021, however, students are anticipating some relaxation due to the current coronavirus situation.
“In 2020, the difficulty level of the NEET-UG was the easiest until now. The government can continue with the same strategy this year. The application forms are possibly not being released keeping students’ safety as most states are under lockdown. Students cannot go to cyber cafes or photocopy shops to access the application forms. Students are also waiting for the revised eligibility criteria as the requirement of a minimum of 75 per cent marks in class 12 has also been waived for JEE Main 2021 aspirants,” said Mishra.
He added that conducting NEET-UG 2021 in online mode was not possible as more than 17 lakh students appear for the exam and the country does not have the digital infrastructure to conduct an entrance exam at such a large scale in one single shift. “However, the exam will have to be move online in the coming few years and the authorities involved will have to devise methods to prepare different question papers for such a huge pool of applicants,” he adds.
Karnesh Pandey (name changed on request) from Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, 21, said that the education ministry and NTA did not think through the situation from NEET aspirants’ perspective. Conducting JEE Main four times and NEET-UG only once is not fair amid such difficult times.
“These are extraordinary circumstances full of uncertainty and fear. If an aspirant misses out NEET 2021 due to any reason, they end up wasting one whole year. The proposal to conduct NEET-UG twice was accepted by the ministry but even then there is only one attempt. What is the use of having two attempts next year when the provision will not be able to help those who are affected the most during the pandemic?” said Karnesh.