News Brief

NEET-UG May Go Online: Centre Considering Digital Shift for Medical Entrance Exam

Swarajya Staff

Jun 30, 2024, 09:27 AM | Updated 09:27 AM IST

 Students check NEET medical entrance exam results. File Photo. (Representative Image) (Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via GettyImages)
Students check NEET medical entrance exam results. File Photo. (Representative Image) (Raj K Raj/Hindustan Times via GettyImages)

In response to recent controversies surrounding the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test for Undergraduate courses (NEET-UG), the Indian government is contemplating shifting the exam to an online format starting next year, according to a report by The Sunday Express.

The NEET-UG exam, which serves as the gateway for medical admissions in India, has been marred by allegations of paper leaks, leading to nationwide protests, multiple arrests, and a CBI investigation. The situation has escalated to the point of causing disruptions in Parliament.

Currently, NEET-UG is conducted as an annual pen-and-paper multiple-choice question (MCQ) test. Candidates mark their answers on an Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) sheet, which is then scanned for evaluation.

The Health Ministry, which oversees the exam conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA), has previously resisted calls to move NEET online. However, recent high-level meetings have discussed the possibility of transitioning to a computer-based test, similar to the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) for engineering admissions.

A senior government official, addressing previous concerns about disadvantaging rural students is cited as saying, "There are many students from rural backgrounds who take the JEE Main and qualify for JEE (Advanced), which are both computer-based tests. Then why should it be a problem for NEET aspirants from rural areas?"

The shift to an online format presents several challenges:

  1. The need for multiple exam sessions over different days to accommodate the large number of candidates (approximately 24 lakh this year).

  2. The requirement for result normalization to account for variations in difficulty levels across different question papers.

However, the computer-based format also offers advantages in terms of maintaining exam integrity, as seen with the JEE.

The final decision on transitioning NEET-UG to an online format rests with the National Medical Commission. Sources within the NMC have acknowledged to Indian Express that an online exam is now being considered as a "serious option."

A seven-member panel, chaired by former ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan, has been set up to recommend reforms in testing procedures and data security protocols, and to review the NTA's structure and functioning.

As discussions continue, stakeholders are weighing the potential benefits of enhanced security against the logistical challenges of implementing such a significant change to one of India's largest competitive exams.

Also read: Why Is NEET So Hard To Tidy Up?

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