The Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry has decided to conduct the National Eligibility-Cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for undergraduate medical courses once a year in keeping with the health ministry’s recommendations.
The National Testing Agency (NTA) announced the registration dates and exam schedule for various competitive exams, such as the University Grants Commission-National Eligibility Test (UGC-NET), Joint Entrance Examination-Main (JEE-Main), National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), Graduate Pharmacy Aptitude Test (GPAT) and Common Management Admission Test (CMAT) on Tuesday.
Earlier, it was decided that NEET-UG will also be held twice a year like JEE Main. But It will be a single exam in pen-and-paper mode, and will be conducted in the same number of languages. All the other exams under the NTA’s purview are computer-based.
Last month, HRD minister Prakash Javadekar had announced that the newly formed National Testing Agency (NTA) will conduct the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test along with the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Main for admission to engineering colleges twice a year. NEET will be conducted on May 5, 2019.
However, the health ministry told the HRD that it was not in favour of a computer-based exam, and also raised concerns about conducting NEET twice a year as the examination calendar may put additional pressure on students.
“The ministry was also concerned that students from the rural areas may be impacted if they conduct only a computer-based exam,” said a senior HRD official.
“NEET will now be a single exam in pen-and-paper mode and in the same number of languages as has been conducted last year. This was done on the request of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which wanted the same pattern from last year to be maintained,” the statement said.
The UGC-NET December 2018 will be the first exam to be conducted by the NTA from December 9 to 23, 2018, while JEE-Main 1 will be conducted from January 6 to 20, 2019, and JEE-Main 2 from April 6 to 20, 2019.
“NTA is also establishing a countrywide network of test practice centres for students of rural areas so that everyone will have an opportunity to practice before the exam,” said a senior HRD official.