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Explained: National Testing Agency And Controversies Around It

NTA has been entrusted to conduct the entrance exams in a fair, efficient and error free manner.

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Explained: National Testing Agency And Controversies Around It

The engineering, medical and the UGC-NET entrance exams conducted this year have faced severe criticism from students and other stakeholders due to allegations of cheating, mismanagement and irregularities.  

In the latest development, the Centre cancelled the UGC-NET exam over "compromised integrity of exam". The test is conducted to determine the eligibility of candidates for the post of assistant professors, and PhD admissions.

The results of NEET UG 2024 are already undergoing charge of widespread irregularities and unfair marking. The Centre has also scrapped the scores of 1,563 candidates who were seeking admission into medical colleges after they were given grace marks for a wrong question. A re-test for these candidates will take place on June 23, 2024.

Earlier, the JEE Main 2024 exam were also marred by controversy when some students took to social media to express their concerns over the alleged discrepancies in the results. Students had alleged errors in the calculation of percentile and uneven distribution of candidates across shifts.  

All these exams are conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) which has been entrusted to conduct the entrance exams in a fair, efficient and error free manner. However, the agency is under attack from students and other stakeholders who have been impacted from the cancellation of the exams and the results. 

What is the National Testing Agency?

The NTA was established in 2017 as an premier testing organisation under the Ministry of Education to conduct entrance exams for admission and fellowship to higher educational institutions. The examination body is responsible for conducting the JEE (Main), NEET-UG, CMAT, GPAT, UGC-NET entrance exams in an efficient, transparent and error free manner. 

The agency has a team of education administrators, experts, researchers and assessment developers to work closely with various state governments, universities, state education boards, UGC, AIU, NCTE, NCERT, CBSE, CISCE, NIOS etc. 
NTA is designed to understand student's abilities and formulate the examination system as per higher education institution's requirements. 

Controversies linked to the NTA

Since its inception, the agency has been marred with various controversies. Here is a look at some of the controversies that were linked to the exam conducting body:

After the conduct of the JEE Main 2024, NTA had notified that around 39 candidates were debarred from the entrance exam on account of using unfair means (UFM) in the JEE Main 2024. The agency had earlier reported a case of impersonation and nine cases of unfair means detected on the first day of the JEE-Main Session 2.
In 2021, JEE Main was compromised when a Mikhail Shargin from Russia hacked into the software for the exam which was provided by Tata Consultancy Services. With the help of Shargin's hacking, students were able to cheat because  'teachers' or 'coaches' were able to take charge of their computers and take the exam instead of students. The remote access was provided through an examination centre in Sonepat in Haryana. The scam allegedly involved several foreign nationals. Around 20 students were believed to have cheated and were banned from taking the exam for the next three years. 

An outrage was triggered in 2022 in Kerala, when girls appearing in the NEET medical entrance exam were forced to remove their bras for security check. Following this, the police had arrested five women including three who forced girls to take off their bra after metal hooks on their bra beeped during security checks. NTA responded to this by saying that the NEET dress code "does not permit any such activity alleged".

In 2022, CBI had questioned eight people for allegedly impersonating real candidates to help them in the NEET-UG exam. The probe agency also noted that this was just one module of criminals and they would probe if there are more such modules in operation duping students through a "rigging racket".  The alleged 'mastermind' of the racket, Sushil Ranjan, had a passport from an address in Delhi's Safdarjung. He was arranging 'solvers' for candidates for a price, the probe agency said.

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