NEET 2020 will test more than just knowledge

CHENNAI: Clearing the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test is tough enough, but medical aspirants this year will have to endure sitting in exam halls for up to six hours wearing masks and without food as part of the Covid-triggered protocol. Writing mock tests wearing masks has become part of the preparation.

NEET begins at 2pm on Sunday and one-fourth of candidates need to get into halls between 11am and 11.40am as per the staggered entry planned. Parents too will find it tough as authorities have been instructed not to allow anyone within 100 metres of a hall to avoid crowding.

Students who appeared for JEE (Main) said that despite the practice, wearing masks for several hours proved difficult. Ambattur resident K Janani, who had worn masks and gloves for one week, said she felt suffocated. “I had to sit in the hall for nearly five hours. It was very tough and I drank water several times,” she said.

Amrith Anbarasan said he practised with masks and OMR answer sheets for NEET. “At the beginning, I felt very weird. Now, after long practice, I am fine,” he said.

Sam Dharshan of Chitlapakkam, who spent little more than four hours inside a hall for JEE (Main), is prepared for tougher times on Sunday. “My reporting time is noon and I have to leave my house by 10am,” he said.

Nanganallur resident Kishore Gnaneshwar, who needs to report at the exam centre in Korattur before 11.30am, plans to have lunch en route. “But, having lunch at 11am and writing the exam till 5pm is a long time,” he said.

Parents are worried stiff. “Students are already under stress. Asking them to wear a mask and wait in an examination hall for three hours can make it worse,” said Sathya R, whose son is appearing for NEET for the first time. “Most of them will leave home by 9.30am. They will be frisked, checked and sent in. If they enter during the first batch at 11am, they are going to be hungry by 2pm.”

Coaching institutes have told students to prepare by writing mock tests wearing masks and gloves. “Shading OMR answer sheets with gloves would be a bit different. It is better to have rehearsals before the exam,” said Chandan Chand, regional director of Aakash Institute.

Wearing masks directly at the exam would make the masks a little foggy while solving papers. “We scheduled mock tests from 2pm to 5pm, but asked students to wear masks from noon,” he said.

Doctors say the test may not be as easy as other tests written so far. “They may be tired and hungry. It’s probably a test not just of their knowledge, but for the physical and mental endurance as well,” said senior pulmonologist Dr Raj B Singh. “It’s probably a peek into the future for them.”




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