#WhatTheFAQ: Why are students asking for another attempt at JEE, NEET, CUET? Why do they blame NTA?

The National Testing Agency was initiated to conduct national-level entrance exams. But the exams were marred by technical glitches and students are left troubled
FAQ August 22 | (Pic: Edexlive)
FAQ August 22 | (Pic: Edexlive)

Courses, books, studies, exams, results and new courses again – a student’s life is pretty much cyclic in that order. It’s hectic! And this year, students claim to have faced a lot of extra stress and tension. And they blame entrance exams. 

With several students expressing their anxiety over the recently conducted entrance tests like NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test), JEE (Joint Entrance Examination) and CUET (Common University Entrance Test), social media platforms like Twitter were flooded with posts about technical glitches, anomalies, delays and whatnot, which occurred during these entrance tests. Now, the troubled students are vehemently appealing for re-exams to the National Testing Agency (NTA), the body that is in charge of all these tests. Here’s some food for thought: What is the NTA and why did it take the responsibility for conducting all these exams? Let us study this agency in detail.

Why was the NTA formed?

It has quite a history dating back to the 20th century. The National Policy of Education 1986, had the Programme of Action formed under it in 1992. This Programme mentioned conducting common national-level entrance tests to professional and non-professional programmes of study.

Then, in 2010, a committee consisting of some of the directors of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) submitted a report to the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD), recommending that a national testing agency be "created by an Act of Parliament" to ensure independence and transparency in testing candidates. MHRD acted on this and in 2013, a seven-member task force was formed to "prepare a blueprint for creating a special purpose vehicle to take the concept of National Testing Agency (NTA) forward".

When was it formed?

In 2017, the then finance minister made an announcement about NTA in the budget speech, which was followed by cabinet approval. On July 7, 2018, the then Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar announced that NTA will be conducting the common entrance exams. The Union cabinet granted an initial amount of Rs 25 crore for the setting up of this agency. The administration of the NTA was entrusted to a Governing Body in September 2018. Currently, the governing body has 10 members and Prof MS Ananth, Former Director, IIT Madras is its Chairperson. It is an autonomous and independent agency.

Which exams were allotted to the NTA?

Minister Javadekar specified that the Joint Entrance Examination – Main (JEE Main) and the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test-Undergraduate (NEET-UG), along with the National Eligibility Test (NET), the Common Management Admission Test (CMAT) and the Graduate Pharmacy Aptitude Test (GPAT) will be conducted by the NTA. The agency took over many other entrance tests like the Jawaharlal Nehru University Entrance Examination (JNUEE), including some other entrance tests for other central universities. While it is difficult to trace which test was exactly entrusted to the NTA at what point in time, it may be noted that the agency is now in charge of about 17 entrance tests, including the newly approved Common University Entrance Test (CUET).

Why are students demanding re-exams now?

For JEE Main and CUET, students allege that they faced several technical issues while registering for the exams as well as while attending the exams at their respective exam centres. They also mention that admit cards were delayed and exam centres were changed at very short notice. Many JEE Main aspirants state that there were discrepancies in their marks and rank cards issued by NTA. They now ask for a third attempt.

Aspirants for both NEET-UG and NEET-PG first demanded that the respective exams be postponed due to lack of preparation time among other reasons like floods. But this was turned down by the Ministry of Education. They too want a second chance.

As for the continuing CUET, apart from students’ complaints, NTA itself has cancelled the exam several times due to technical glitches at exam centres.

While NTA has stated that it is taking note of these issues and working to fix them, students, parents and other concerned people have raised questions about the testing agency’s capability and credibility.

Has NTA faced any other controversies in the past?

Assam topper scam: In the year 2020, Neel Nakshatra Das, a candidate of JEE Mains was successful in allegedly using a substitute to give the exam and scored a 99.8 percentile. Later, the accused people were taken into custody.

NEET UG suicide case: In 2020, it was declared that Vidhi Suryavanshi of Madhya Pradesh, a NEET UG candidate had scored only 6 marks. After she allegedly died by suicide, it was found that the declaration was an error and Vidhi had actually scored 590 marks.

NEET UG topper case: In another case of erroneous declaration of marks in 2020, NTA declared another NEET UG candidate Mridul Rawat as failed, and denied his claims of a good score, until later, it was found out that he had actually emerged as the All India Topper in the ST category.

Refer to the articles below to read the students' issues in detail:

Will NEET, CUET and JEE be merged?

As per a proposal by the University Grants Commission (UGC), the plan is to merge the three entrance tests. However, according to many people, including students and parents, it is not a wise move. “This is not a good move. When so many issues are emerging with NEET, CUET and JEE, merging all three will mean a huge number of students will take the exam together. I do not think NTA will be able to successfully conduct it,” says RTI activist Vivek Pandey.

To read more on this click on the links below:

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