After re-test, integrating 1,563 NEET UG candidates to rank list an enormous challenge, experts point out

Three petitions were heard by the Supreme Court today, June 13 about the grace marks and other discrepancies in NEET UG 2024. The pleas about the alleged paper leaks are scheduled for hearing on July 8
Experts opinion on NEET UG re-test
Experts opinion on NEET UG re-test(EdexLive Photo)

As the Union Government has decided to withdraw grace marks awarded to the National Eligibility cum Entrance Exam Undergraduate (NEET-UG) 2024 candidates and give them an option of re-test, experts from the medical association delve into the challenges ahead for the test conducting agency, National Testing Agency (NTA). 

Although the re-test is likely to be held on June 23, with results scheduled to be announced before June 30, Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA) Dr Aviral Mathur told EdexLive, "Depending on the student's choice, the exam will be conducted for affected 1,563 students. So, the integration of these candidates' scores to the existing rank list is still questionable."

"With re-ranking on the cards undoubtedly, every candidate's ranks will be reshuffled. Rankings may potentially change by 50 or 100 positions," he stressed, adding that this re-shuffle of ranks could result in both good and bad consequences. Mathur further points out that the option of conducting a re-test for students is dicey. "If a student has received 715 marks, why would they opt for a re-test?" he remarks. 

Further, he emphasised that conducting counselling without these 1,563 candidates' scores would lead to further discrepancies.  

Overhyped and a scam?

On the other hand, the United Doctors’ Front Association's (UDFA) National President Dr Lakshya Mittal and medical activist Vivek Pandey term grace marks matter as a "hype". "The grace marks matter is a scam. It is equivalent to the VYAPAM scam 2013," said Mittal.  

It may be recalled that in the 2013 Pre-Medical Test conducted by the Madhya Pradesh government's Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal or 'Vyapam' a case of impersonation was reported.

"They first awarded the marks to resolve the loss of exam time, then established a committee to enquire into the allegations, and now, they have revoked the decision. The goal of all of this is to stifle the paper leak problem," Mittal added. 

Pandey opined, "We have known from the beginning that grace or bonus marks will not lead to a rise in the cut-off marks to such an extent. This issue has been blown out of proportion. The government decided to give students who received grace marks another chance today!"

Is paper leaks the larger problem?Indeed, in Pandey's opinion, paper leaks are the backbone of the "dramatic increase of cut-offs". Notably, there were allegations of paper leaks in Bihar, Rajasthan and other states as well. According to statistical information curated by a NEET aspirant with the help of NTA's data, there is a ten-time spike in the number of candidates who scored above 700 in 2024 as against 2023. Here are the details: 

Statistical data
Statistical data(EdexLive Photo)

A petition regarding the same is scheduled to be heard on July 8 by the apex court.  

Further, Mittal emphasised that ahead of the hearing, the education ministry should intervene and initiate an independent inquiry into the matter. Unanimously all the experts agree that an enquiry should be carried out by an independent agency rather than a member committee formed by the agency itself. Pointing out that the system's righteousness and transparency are being questioned, Federation of All India Medical Association (FAIMA) Chairman Rohan Krishnan said, "Given the allegation made against the agency and its top brass, the chairman and the senior management have a moral obligation to step down as their responses were neither appropriate nor adequate." 

Trust issues

Making a poignant point, Mathur said, "Students' trust in the test conducting agency is completely shaken. So maybe the giving of such power to conduct entrance exams transparently to NTA should be reconsidered." Suggesting an alternative, Mathur said, "NEET should be conducted in an online mode as the chance of paper leaks is favourably less. Additionally, in offline mode, there is a high probability of paper leaks as anyone can leak the paper."

"In today's times when a majority of exams are conducted in the online mode, conducting NEET in the online mode would eliminate such irregularities to an extent," he added. 

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