NEET 2020 records over 85% attendance despite pandemic

NEW DELHI: Based on random sampling, the National Testing Agency said that the attendance for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test-Undergraduate (NEET-UG) stands between 85% to 90% on Sunday. Those candidates who missed the exams after being tested positive for COVID-19 will get another opportunity to sit for the test, the date for which will be announced later.

From this year the admissions to MBBS course in the 13 All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), Puducherry will also be made through NEET following the amendment in National Medical Commission Act, 2019 passed by the Parliament last year. In many places NTA also arranged buses and private vehicles to transfer candidates who arrived at the centres assigned to them earlier instead of the changed one.

A total of 15.97 lakh candidates registered for the test this year as against 15.13 lakh in 2019. The attendance in 2019 was 92.9%. Unlike JEE (main), NEET-UG is a pen-paper exam and NTA officials said that it will be able to compile the data on Monday after the centres send feedback after the dispatch of the OMR sheets.

“Based on random sampling the attendance is found to be between 85% to 90%, which is marginally lower than that of last year. The tests have been completed successfully,” said a senior official at the NTA headquarters in Noida.

The test was offered in 11 languages – English, Hindi, Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Odia, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu this year. Based on the initial report more than 77% aspirants took the test in English, around 12% in Hindi and 11% in other languages.

At a centre in Mumbai the distribution of the question paper got delayed by half an hour as the access card to open the digital lock failed. Finally, the trunk had to be opened manually and candidates were given extra time.

Following the ministry of health and family welfare’s standard operating procedures, NTA to avoid crowding had to add and change centres of candidates on September 10 and 11. Though the candidates were informed via phone calls and emails, they landed up in their old centres in the morning. For instance, in Nagpur, NTA arranged buses and vehicles to transfer the candidates to their correct centres before the exams started at 2 pm.

Also a per MoHFW’s SOP, COVID-19 positive candidates were not allowed to take the exam on Sunday and they will be allowed to appear at a later date. According to Vineet Joshi, director general, NTA, “Candidates who missed the test or denied entry as they are positive (of COVID-19) will be allowed to take the test later. They need to follow the procedure like email to NTA attaching their medical test certificate, etc. NTA will take stock and announce the date later.”

Candidates found the conduct of the exam safe. While the agency had allotted just 12 candidates per room, down from 24 in 2019, many candidates said their room had an even lesser number of candidates.

Nayan Chaudhari from Pune said: The paper was as per last year, not tricky. Seating arrangements were done well about 6-7 students in one class.” Saileza Biswal from Bhubaneswar said: “Biology was easy to answer. But physics was tough. Examination indeed went smoothly amid the pandemic.” Sanjay Lokesh from Chennai agreed that the question paper was moderate and physics questions were tough.

According to C V Madhavi, principal of DAV Public School, Pune, “NEET went off smoothly. Social distancing happened very strictly. Students adhered all COVID norms. Disposable masks, gloves, sanitizers, temperature check-up machines, jammers, contactless frisking all were provided by the NTA unit.”

The NEET-UG is conducted for admission to MBBS and BDS courses in the medical and dental colleges approved by the Medical Council of India and the Dental Council of India respectively. The results are expected to be announced in the second week of October, 2020.

In 2019 a total of 7.97 lakh candidates qualified the test, which include 2.86 lakh from unreserved category, 3.75 from OBC category, more than 99,000 from SC and more than 35,000 from ST categories. There are close to 1 lakh seats for MBBS and BDS available in India across approved colleges.

(With inputs from Swati Shinde, Abhishek Choudhuri, Hemant Pradhan, A Ragu Raman, and Yogita Rao)




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