|Dear Prime Minister: Can we review NEET and other exams seriously ? for one other lasting legacy of your govt|
The NEET qualifying examination for medical/dental studies was conducted last Sunday i.e. 12th September. Normally the exam happens sometimes in May but due to the covid situation, the exams were delayed this year. There are more than 16 lakh students appearing for the exam. The National Testing Agency (NTA) which conducts the exam has announced the cut off to be the 50th percentile from the top.
Last year there were 15,97,435 aspiring students out of which 7,71,500 students were able to qualify with a cut-off of 720- 147 for the general category, while for SC/ST/OBC it was 147-113.
This year there were 200 questions against 180 within the same time frame of 3 hours. The center allocated was far-flung.
A Fair and Rational Exam system: There have been many debates on what should be the exam pattern for professional courses. America, one of the best countries for higher studies, conducts SAT and GRE for the same. Besides there is GMAT, ACT, MACT, LSAT and TOEFL. Canada uses TOEFL or IELTS or C1 advanced or C2 proficiency or PTE. Germany also depends upon TOEFL or IELTS for admission to its various courses. Singapore, Australia, Italy, Sweden ,New Zealand and the United Kingdom also use TOEFL, IELTS / PTE and or C1 advance. Many countries use GMAT as well as GRE for PhD and Management courses too. France uses GMAT and GRE for management courses.
Except for India, no other country stresses so much on competitive exams like JEE, CAT, NEET which can make or break the careers of aspiring students. Add the number of students to the exams and also the frequency and one can see how difficult it is to crack Indian exam systems.
The question is are we fair with students?
Any type of competitive exam requires two-three basic things to qualify. First and foremost is the student, capable and competent basically from a mental/intellectual point of view 2. Can he handle pressure and manage time 3. how one adjusts to difficult questions.
Any student who can be true on these three parameters has a better chance of qualifying for the exams provided he /she has studied well and has gone through various sets of questions normally that are available with coaching classes and has undertaken mock tests.
The only thing here and which is important despite all the three factors in his favor is that for any reason if the penultimate day is not good for him/her the student may miss the opportunity.
The answer is a clear NO on the fairness question. And there are logical answers to this. First and foremost is the frequency. One attempt in one year is too hard for any student to fulfill his dreams. All exams should be held at least twice and ideally four times a year so that students can appear fast without delay and anxiety.
Second, the subject test should be only 50 percent of overall questions and the rest should be on the pattern of GMAT / GRE. This will test the real mental capabilities of any student.
Third exams should be conducted in online mode. With PM Modi announcing a digital India and also doing away with unnecessary paperwork it looks absurd to carry on with such age-old systems. WE have to not move with time, but we have to be ahead of time.
States like Tamilnadu have passed a bill to do away with the NEET exam. The Pressure is not only from colleges where seats are getting unfilled but also from students who succumbed after the NEET exam and their performances. This is really unfortunate that students have to pay with their life on the basis of one exam and the poor vision and planning of the policymakers.
The government has to think hard on the pattern and eligibility criteria for all professional courses. While competitive exams are a must, we must think in their pattern and frequency. PM Modi and his government have made many strides in the education sector. The students of the country will be truly obliged with a sense of lasting gratitude if the government is able to think over these issues and modify them accordingly.
This has to be done in fast mode considering all eventualities. An exam that is supposed to happen in May when conducted in September cannot be fair from any point of view.
Disclaimer: My Daughter appeared for the NEET exam this year. However this article is not to support her but in the interest of all students irrespective of caste, creed, and economic considerations by and large.
Dr. Asheesh Shah
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