The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) is an entrance examination for students who wish to study any graduate medical course – MBBS/dental (BDS) - or postgraduate course - MD MS - in government or private medical colleges in India.
The NEET-UG (Undergraduate), for MBBS and BDS courses, are conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and NEET-PG is conducted by the National Board of Examinations.
The NEET-UG replaced the All India Pre Medical Test (AIPMT) and all individual MBBS exams conducted by states or colleges in 2013.
However, many colleges and institutes obtained a stay order and conducted private examinations for admission to their courses.
The NEET was declared illegal and unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2013. But it was restored on April 11, 2016, after a five-judge Constitution bench recalled the earlier verdict and allowed the central government and the Medical Council of India (MCI) to implement the common entrance test until the court decides afresh on its validity.
From 2016 onwards, all admissions for UG and PG in medical and dental shall be based on marks scored in NEET examination.
Undergraduate courses at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, Postgraduate Institute for Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh
and Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research (JIPMER) are outside the purview of NEET, as these institutes were set up by separate laws.
Let us now examine the impact of NEET:
On AIPMT: The national level medical entrance test for MBBS courses, till 2012, will now be used for admissions to 15% seats of all government medical colleges, except in Andhra Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.
On other exams: All individual MBBS entrance exams, which were being organised individually by the state or colleges, like AFMC, OJEE, EAMCET,
Delhi-PMT, UP-CPMT, U-PMT, R-PMT, HR-PMT, WBJEE, JKCET etc., will not be held henceforth.
The idea of a single exam has its benefits:
One common examination for admission into almost all the MBBS colleges.
Students will be free and relaxed after appearing in only one exam.
No need to apply for several entrance examinations.
Stress-level will be considerably reduced.
Substantial financial savings for parents.
NEET will avoid unnecessary wastage of time, effort and money.
Since the admission criteria does not include Board marks (apart from minimum eligibility), a student must prepare in a focused manner.
And there are limitations too:
Some students complain that if for some reason they are unable to take the exam, they will lose a year.
Some students say their chances will be better if multiple exams are held.
Within NEET-PG, as it is an online examination, some students have complained that they got the tough questions.
There is a growing concern that there is a difference between the English version of the question paper and the regional language in which the question paper is prepared.
It is said that question papers in regional languages are tougher compared to the English version.
There is also a feeling amongst the students, that there is a wide-range of fees in the NRI and Management Quota which varies from 20 lakh to 40 lakh per year. Though the Supreme Court mentioned that money collected from NRI students should be utilised for providing cross-subsidy to other students, many feel that NRI fees should be reasonable so that meritorious students will still have an option to select these seats.
Overall, NEET is a well-focussed, multiple choice questions (MCQ)-based exam which determines the student’s knowledge in the subject. Students have to prepare for MCQs right from the beginning. Understanding its importance, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Bengaluru, has initiated the concept of MCQs right from the first year of the MBBS course in the internal assessment component, so that a student is ready to face NEET.
(The writer is former vice-chancellor, Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences)