The government decided to conduct the computer-based JEE (Main) twice a year in 2019 and expanded it to four times a year from 2021. However, the medical entrance test continues to be held in pen-and-paper mode and just once a year. Close to 16 lakh aspirants registered for NEET-UG 2020, of which more than 13.5 lakh candidates appeared.
Dr Rakesh Yadav, president, Faculty Association of AIIMS, and Dr S Kumar, chancellor of Sri DevCaraj Urs University in Kolar, feel ‘one bad day should not result in wasting an academic year’. “A student may not be able to appear due to various reasons or may have a bad day. Therefore, like the engineering entrance, NEET too can be conducted multiple times,” said Yadav.
Two key points on the agenda for Monday’s meeting, according to government sources, are whether the entrance test should shift from pen-paper mode to computer-based and conducted twice annually. “World over, reliance on online exams due to its reliability and security is well established. So it is time for NEET to give up the pen-paper model as majority of pilferage happens during transfer of material to various examination centres,” said Kumar.
“If NTA can manage the logistics, NEET as a computer-based exam is a good idea,” added Yadav.
While the final decision rests with the health ministry, senior education ministry officials say that apart from benefit to the candidates, the computer-based test would be more transparent, faster and with an easier evaluation process, and there will be no delay in declaration of results.
Students feel they should get the benefit of multiple tests like the engineering aspirants. However, some are sceptical of making it computer-based. P R Subbaraman, a student from Chennai, said he welcomes the idea of NEET twice a year. “But online tests have many challenges, including connectivity issues. It’s better to write a pen-paper exam,” he said.
However, there are aspirants who feel that as NTA and IITs have successfully conducted JEE (Main), making NEET-UG computer-based would not be a problem.