A 'NEET' Affair: Evolution Of Medical Entrance Exams In This Decade
In this decade medical entrance process was spruced with introduction of a common entrance examination (NEET) which replaced all state-level medical entrance exams.
At the turn of this decade, medical aspirants went through two stages of entrance exam for admission to an MBBS programme in India. The two-tier selection process was a mix of objective and subjective test. By the end of the decade, the selection process has evolved to only one stage and multiple state-level exams have all merged into a single national-level examination.
When this decade started, students appeared in All India Pre Medical Test (AIPMT) for admission to medical and dental programmes. Now, with the decade ending, AIPMT has been replaced by National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to medical and dental programmes.
When Medical Entrance Exams Became 'NEET'
In 2013, Medical Council of India (MCI) introduced National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) which was to be a national-level and only medical entrance exam for admission to medical and dental courses in India.
After debuting in 2013, the exam was discontinued and did not resurface until 2016. After it was conducted in 2013, the Supreme Court of India put a stay on the exam in response to petitions received against the exam and said that MCI could not interfere in the admission process.
The exam made a come-back in 2016, when it was conducted twice - once in May which was considered the first phase of AIPMT, and then in July which was considered the second phase of AIPMT.
AIPMT was completely replaced by NEET in 2017. Along with AIPMT, medical entrance examinations which were conducted at state-level also became a thing of the past.
The only other medical entrance examinations which remained operational along with NEET were AIIMS-MBBS exam and JIPMER-MBBS entrance conducted for admission to AIIMS, and JIPMER institutes respectively.
NEET Moves From CBSE To National Testing Agency
NEET was conducted by Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) initially but with institution of National Testing Agency (NTA), the responsibility was transferred to NTA, a government agency formed specifically for the purpose of conducting entrance and recruitment examinations.
NTA conducted the first NEET examination for admission to undergraduate programmes in 2019.
Only OMR-based Multi-lingual National Level Exam
Despite most major entrance exams taking the computer-based route, NEET has remained with the OMR-format. Of the 16 national-level examinations that are conducted by NTA, NEET is the only one which remains in the OMR format.
NEET or NEET UG exam, to be precise, is conducted in 11 different languages including English and Hindi. The languages in which NEET exam is conducted include Hindi, English, Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Odia, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu.
NEET Exam Bloopers
While the multi-lingual nature of the exam allows students from state boards or whose medium of instruction are not English and Hindi to easily attempt the exam, any faulty translation also leads to confusion among students. Since the questions in the regional language question papers are a translation of the questions in the paper set in English language. This has led to several bloopers over the years.
The translation-fails are funny but for students these mean a dent in their possible score. In the Tamil version of the question paper in 2018, 'Cheeta' was translated as 'Seetah'.
In total 49 questions had errors and as a result Madras High Court ordered CBSE to grant 196 grace marks to all the students who appeared for the exam in Tamil medium, an order which was later quashed by the Supreme Court.
Tamil Nadu And NEET: A Rocky Relationship
Tamil Nadu did away with a state-level medical entrance exam a decade ago. Students were allotted seats in State Medical and Dental colleges on the basis of their performance in the board examinations.
However, in 2017 when NEET was made mandatory for admission, Tamil Nadu government passed an ordinance which sought exemption for medical students from appearing in the common entrance test NEET. Supreme Court directed the Tamil Nadu government to stick to NEET and said that there could be no "compromise on intellect".
NEET For Post-graduation
AIPMT was held for both undergraduate and postgraduate admissions. When NEET UG was introduced for undergraduate courses, NEET PG was introduced for postgraduate courses.
NEET PG is conducted for admission to PG medical courses and NEET MDS is conducted for admission to PG Dental courses. Both these examinations are held by National Board of Examination (NBE).
National Medical Commission Enters The Scene
NEET isn't the only highlight of this decade. With National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill being passed in 2019, the decade will end with a complete overhaul of the medical education and entrance exam system.
NMC Bill will replace the Medical Council of India (MCI) Act . However, it is not the only important aspect of the Bill. The Bill introduced many changes in the medical entrance examination system such as a single common entrance examination for MBBS and BDS admission.
One For All: NEET Replaces AIIMS, JIPMER Entrance Exams
NMC does away with any and all medical entrance examinations except NEET (UG) exam. Before the decade concluded, the Union Health Minister made the announcement that from 2020 onward, NEET will be the only examination for admission to all medical colleges including AIIMS and JIPMER.
The 'NEXT' Step
The National Medical Commission (NMC) Bill proposes a common final-year MBBS examination, known as National Exit Test (NEXT), for admission to post-graduate medical courses and for obtaining a license to practise medicine.
NEXT would also be applicable to institutes of national importance like AIIMS in order to achieve a common standard in medical education in the country.
NEXT will serve multiple purposes. One, it will replace NEET PG and will be the entrance exam for postgraduate courses in medicine. Two, the exam will be held for granting licence to practice medicine as medical practitioners and for enrolment in the State Register or the National Register. Three, it will be the qualifying criteria for anyone with a foreign medical qualification for the purpose of obtaining licence to practice medicine as medical practitioner and for enrolment in the State Register or the National Register.
The decade ends on a mixed note for medical entrance examinations in India. While there were a fair share of controversies, the evolution of the medical entrance examinations have been fueled by the objective to make them less stressful for students and to bring more transparency in the process.
Also Read: 'NEET' Most Searched Term On Google In India
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