Published: 29th December 2022
#WhatTheFAQ: NMC's guidelines for NExT exam are out. Here's what you need to know
The NExT exam was proposed by the NMC in 2019 as a national-level single licentiate and eligibility test for MBBS graduates and will replace the NEET PG and the FMGE
The National Medical Commission (NMC) has released the draft guidelines for the National Exit Test (NExT) for feedback and comments from the public. The NExT exam has found itself in the news quite often this year with aspirants waiting impatiently for some clarity as to the nature of the exam and the exact timelines according to which it was to be implemented.
What is the NExT exam?
The NExT exam was proposed by the NMC in 2019 as a national-level single licentiate and eligibility test for MBBS graduates. The exam will replace the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test Postgraduation (NEET PG) exam, which is the entrance exam for admission into PG medical courses in India, and the Foreign Medical Graduates Examination (FMGE), which is required to be cleared by students who completed their undergraduate medical abroad in order to practice medicine in India. It is to be noted that NExT is applicable to all undergraduate medical students currently pursuing MBBS in all medical colleges approved by the NMC.
What is the format of the exam?
As per NMC's draft guidelines, the NExT exam will be conducted in two steps.
Step I will be a theoretical exam conducted once a year in the Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) format in the Computer-Based Testing (CBT) mode. The exam will consist of six papers, covering all subjects of the final MBBS year. The MBBS course is divided into three phases, namely, Pre-Clinical, Para-Clinical and Clinical. The Clinical phase or III MBBS is the final MBBS phase, which is further divided into two parts. The NExT exam will also replace the theory exams for the III MBBS/Final MBBS Part II.
Step II of the NExT exam is a Practical/Clinical and Viva Voce Examination covering seven clinical subjects. This exam will be conducted in person either by the state medical university of the respective aspirant's college or by a university authorised to conduct it by the NMC. The exam will aim to test not just the clinical skills of the MBBS graduate, but also their clinical decision-making and communication skills.
What is the evaluation and qualification process for these steps?
In order to qualify NExT Step I and be eligible for NExT Step II, students must score at least 50% of the marks in each of the six papers. The total marks scored across the six papers will be tallied as the raw scores of the candidates, and the corresponding percentages may be calculated "if required" said the NMC's draft guidelines.
At NExT Step II, the candidate will be evaluated based on their performance in the practical test and will be declared pass or fail.
How many attempts do candidates have in order to clear these exams?
NExT Step I and Step II will both have a regular exam and a supplementary exam in the year. Students can sit for the supplementary exam if they fail to clear the regular test. There is no limit on the number of attempts for either of the exams. However, in order to clear the test, students must have done so within 10 years from the date of joining their MBBS course.
What are some areas where the marks will be utilised?
All medical graduates have to complete their Compulsory Rotatory Medical Internship (CRMI). Candidates will be eligible to sign up for the CRMI only if they have cleared the NExT Step I with at least 50% scores in each of the six theory papers. Then, they also have to clear the III MBBS/Final MBBS (Part 2) Practical Examination of their respective university.
For Foreign Medical Graduates (FMGs) to be eligible to pursue an internship in India, they will have to clear the NExT Step I exam with 50% or more marks in all six papers.
In order to be registered as a medical practitioner in the Indian Medical Register or the State Medical Register, candidates will have to meet their required internship durations and pass NExT Step II as well.
Now, for admissions into postgraduate broad speciality courses in medicine in Indian medical colleges, students must have cleared NExT Step I, their internship periods, the final MBBS practical exam of their respective colleges and NeXT Step II. The students will then have to attend counselling in order to gain admission into their choice of course and seat. Merit for admission into PG courses will be calculated based on the NExT Step I marks. For this purpose, the total raw marks across six subjects will be considered. These marks, for admission into PG courses will remain valid for three years.
What is the schedule for NExT?
NExT Step I is proposed in the second week of December, with results expected by the second week of January. The compulsory internship period will then last for a year starting from February and ending in February next year. Then, NExT Step II will be conducted in March, with results scheduled for April. The admission process into PG courses will begin in May and if it is concluded by the end of June, PG courses will begin from July.