• Nazima Khan

NEET 2021 - the real reason behind uncertainty regarding dates and pattern?

The Education ministry headed by Dr. Ramesh 'Nishank' Pokhriyal has had a tedious quarter. After facing the brunt from students for conducting the 2020 NEET/JEE examination during the pandemic to the outreach campaign for the new patterns and dates for JEE and Boards 2021, they've had a tough year.

The trouble isn't over yet, however. While the education minister has appeared on live streams about 3 odd times to answer questions regarding Boards and JEE, the same is not true for the other major entrance examination, NEET leading to multiple calls against what has been termed has a lax behavior of the MoE

Infact, while the syllabus, pattern changes, increased attempts and date-sheet (tentative) has been already announced for JEE Mains, the minister hasn't even confirmed the mode of the NEET 2021 examination as of today. Note that NEET is conducted once during the first half of May every year and is attempted by 17 Lakh odd students in a pen-paper format (Usually, JEE is conducted twice a year in a computer-based-test format)

One might wonder, why is it so hard for the ministry to roll out a similar plan as JEE for NEET and put the anxiety and uncertainty amongst students to rest. The quick and simple answer is - Ego-clash.

You see, JEE is completely administered by the National Testing Agency (which with help from IITs - from syllabus to the actual prescription of the test. Same is not true for NEET. Even considering that for the past couple of years NEET has been conducted by NTA, a whole another body (created after the dissolution of the infamous Medical Council of India) called the National Medical Commission, NMC falling under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) is responsible for formulating the actual test and NTA only 'conducts' it.

The Minister of Education, during one of his live streams assured students that he would "take into consideration" the widespread request to conduct NEET at least twice a year if not 4 times as JEE. This has most likely become the point of contention as put simply, NMC is of the opinion that the Ministry of Education does not have any locus standi in the formulation or pattern of NEET examination.

While the demand for at least two attempts is justified considering results of NEET can be extremely volatile due to the focus of speed in the test rather than concepts themselves and it's engineering counterpart, JEE will be conducted 4 times a year with relaxed pattern and extra choices. It is most likely that it will be accepted.

On one hand the first JEE for this year is less than 30 days away and aspirants' preparations are in full swing, on the other hand, NEET aspirants are unsure even about the mode of examination.