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Medical aspirants urge government to allow them at least five attempts at NEET

Bhopal: A year after its stormy debut, NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) has once again sparked a heated debate among medical aspirants and their parents.

MBBS aspirants attending a coaching class in Bhopal in February 2017. (Photo: IMT / Paneeni Sharma)
MBBS aspirants attending a coaching class in Bhopal in February 2017. (Photo: IMT / Paneeni Sharma)

According to reports, there have been some major changes in NEET (Under Graduate) 2017, a national level medical and dental entrance test conducted by the CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education), including limited number of attempts and a cap on the upper age limit for appearing in the test.

It was recently reported that medical and dental aspirants would be allowed to appear in the NEET UG for only upto three times, that too until the age of 25 for general category students and 30 for reserved category students. The minimum age to appear in NEET UG is 17 years.

Further, candidates who have already attempted AIPMT/NEET three times in the past are not eligible to appear in NEET 2017. The move has taken many by surprise since there has never been a specified maximum age limit or the number of attempts to take NEET.

The move is aimed at bringing down the number of older candidates competing with young aspirants. That being the case, India Medical Times talked with some medical students and aspirants on what they think of this move.

Purva Malik, a medical aspirant who is preparing for a second attempt at NEET, told IMT, “I’m under tremendous pressure to make it through this time because I didn’t succeed to get admission in a medical college last year because of the chaos that ensued after the Supreme Court made NEET mandatory for admission to medical and dental colleges across the country.”

Welcoming the move, Prakash Singh, a fourth year medical student, told IMT, “This move of putting the cap on attempts and age will bring down cases of fraud, cheating. The move will encourage students to crack the exam in one single attempt. It is definitely a step in the right direction as we cannot have 30-year-olds writing NEET.”

“It will decrease the number of students who keep taking the test and when they don’t make the cut they just join a BSc course and also keep trying the medical entrance test,” Sakshi Jha, a first year medical student, told IMT.

Shruti Pathak, a third year medical student, told IMT, “It is a good decision by the government as it will help the candidates to restrain themselves from spoiling the crucial years of their life and instead opt for an alternative career early. This will also help vacate the number of seats for other students who have been preparing for it and will be attempting NEET for the first time to pursue a career in medicine.”

“This decision is good as it will discourage candidates who keep trying their luck at the examination and due to this the number of older candidates competing with younger aspirants has been rising with each passing year. The decision will force such individuals to focus on the field where their capability and passion lie,” Hemant Kumar, a medical aspirant preparing for NEET 2017, told IMT.

“The age criterion is a positive step but why discriminate between reserved and open category and when a student is eligible for NEET at 17, after Class XII and if that student makes continuous attempts, he or she would become ineligible for the test after 20. This, according to me, is unreasonable as the students have eight years between 17 and 25. At least five attempts should be allowed,” Sudha Bose, a fourth year medical student and sister of a medical aspirant, told IMT.

Explaining the reasons why medical aspirants need more attempts at NEET, Tanya Pahariya, who is preparing for the competitive test, told IMT, “Students continue to take the entrance test to secure a seat in a government-run medical college where fees are much lower. Exorbitant fees charged by private medical colleges and deemed universities deter us from opting for them as we cannot afford fees in a figure of lakhs.”

In a related development, a Bill was recently tabled by the Tamil Nadu government in the State Assembly to ensure admission in MBBS and BDS courses in state government medical and dental colleges continue on the basis of marks obtained in higher secondary (Class XII) exams.

In 2016, the Supreme Court made NEET, a national common entrance test, mandatory for admission in all government and private medical and dental colleges across the country. However, the union government’s institutions such as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS); and the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh were exempted from the common entrance test. States such as Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra opposed the judgment and was successfully exempted for the state-run institutions and affiliated colleges for 2016.

Speaking about the Tamil Nadu government’s attempt to continue this exemption from the NEET ambit even this year, Prachi Sethi, a medical aspirant, told IMT, “This is not justified on the principle of equality as it will become a lot easy for the students who score good marks in Class XII exams in Tamil Nadu and we here will kill ourselves each and every moment thinking how will we make it through the entrance exam. Why medical college admission on the basis of 12th Class marks should be implemented in only a few states? If our government talks about equality, then it should be implemented across the states.”

by Paneeni Sharma

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