NEET, JEE to be held twice a year: How this will benefit students

Students coming out after taking the 'National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) in Gurugram on Sunday. Photo: PTI
In a move that may benefit lakhs of students, Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development (HRD) Upendra Kushwaha informed Lok Sabha on Monday that the national medical entrance exam (NEET) and engineering entrance exam JEE might be conducted twice a year. Every year, students appear for these two entrance examinations in the hope of getting through the top engineering and medical colleges in the country.
 
How will the move benefit students
 
"The exams will be conducted online at least twice a year, thereby giving an adequate opportunity to the candidates to bring out their best," Kushwaha said.
 
The HRD Ministry is of the opinion that taking away the extra burden would leave CBSE with some space to focus on improving the quality of education and innovating curriculum.
 
— JEE Main, NEET to be conducted twice a year: The first and foremost benefit of NTA would be the conduct of JEE Main and NEET examinations twice a year in an online format. The twice a year model for chief entrance examinations would help students to pace their studies and most importantly give them an additional opportunity to appear without wasting their year.
 
— Skip exams in April and May if it collides with boards: The examinations are at present conducted in the months of April and May, which are just after the board examinations for class 12th. The twice a year may give students the time to pace their preparations, which is bound to benefit students immensely.

 
How will it affect students?
 
Syllabus revision
 
The other aspect of NTA is the possibility of a curriculum revision. Since NTA would be tasked to conduct only the examinations, the resources would be better employed. The NEET's design is favourable to the CBSE syllabi – in fact, it is tailored to the advantage of students of the CBSE, creating an educational imbalance unfavourable to students from state educational systems. It was devised in English, extended to Hindi, and disadvantages students educated in the vernacular.
 
It is possible that with NTA, there may be a better alignment of the curriculum. 
 
CBSE overburdened
 
The CBSE has conveyed its inhibitions to the HRD ministry about conducting the exams in future, saying they are overburdened with the massive exercise.
 
Both the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to medical colleges and the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) for admission to engineering colleges are currently conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).
 
Currently, more than 40 lakh students appear for seven entrance tests — CAT, JEE (Main), JEE (Advanced), GATE, CMAT, NEET, NET — held by the CBSE, IITs, IIMs and AICTE every year, reports TOI.
 
National Testing Agency
 
The National Testing Agency (NTA) is an independent body dedicated to conducting entrance tests for higher education, on the lines of the Educational Testing Service (ETS) in the United States.
 
According to ministry officials, the NTA will be established as a Society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 as an independent, autonomous, self-reliant and self-sustained premier testing organization, with the flexibility to pay market salaries to the experts.
 
Several governments in the past have proposed and, subsequently, shelved the idea of establishing such an agency. The Programme of Action (1992) for implementation of the National Policy on Education (1986) advocated the setting up of a national testing body. Successive committees, such as the National Knowledge Commission (2006-2009) and the Ashok Misra Committee on a review of JEE system (2015), recommended constituting an independent body for the conduct of the examinations.
 
According to The Indian Express, the ministry expects that the examination fee paid by 40 lakh students should make NTA fully self-reliant and financially independent to meet all administrative and operational expenses. This body will be subjected to a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) audit. Initially, the government will provide a one-time grant of Rs 25 crore for NTA to start operation. It will have a board of governors and a director general, who will be an eminent educationist.