Amid rising cases of COVID-19 in the country and opposition to conduct the competitive exams, the NTA has moved forward with conducting both the JEE Mains and NEET UG 2020.
The JEE Mains exams was recently completed on Sunday, 6 September, and now the agency is gearing up to conduct NEET 2020 on 13 September.
The National Testing Agency (NTA) director General Vineet Joshi on Wednesday, 26 August, said that the agency is “fully prepared” to conduct the NEET in a “safe and secure” manner, in accordance with all COVID-19 health and safety regulations.
The agency also stated that at least 15.3 lakh students have downloaded the JEE and NEET 2020 admit cards, which include 7.9 lakh for NEET.
In order to ensure proper social distancing inside the examination halls, the number of candidates per room has been reduced from 24 to 12.
Entry and exit of candidates will be staggered. Additional arrangements have been made so that candidates are socially distanced while waiting inside the exam centre.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Wednesday, 2 September, released Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on preventive measures to be followed while conducting examinations to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Students Unable to Travel to Exam Centres
According to data released by the Ministry of Education on Thursday, 4 September, nearly 115,000 were unable to appear for the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE Mains) in the first three days, highlighting the fear among students of contracting COVID-19 and their push to postpone the exam.
In West Bengal, nearly 75 percent candidates were unable to appear for the JEE Mains exam on the first day.
Wrong NEET Exam Centres Assigned
Despite the agency increasing the number of exam centres for NEET to 3,842 from 2,546 and claiming that a majority of students have been given their first preference for exam centres, there are some cases which are startling.
A NEET aspirant from Galandwadi village in Pune’s Indapur taluka, Yogita Choudhari, was shocked to see her exam centre stated as Imphal in Manipur, over 3,200 km away, reported The Indian Express.
According to the report, the family has been reaching out to the NTA since the admit cards were released on 31 August but have not received a response.
“We have booked flight tickets for 10 and 11 September. It will require two flights to reach Imphal – from Pune to Delhi and from Delhi to Imphal – spanning two days,” reported The Indian Express, quoting Yogita’s father, Devidas Choudhari.
The report further states that several NEET aspirants in Mumbai have been assigned centres away from their homes even though the NTA has allowed students to select the city of choice.
Unlike the JEE Mains exam, which is computer based, the NEET UG exam in a paper pencil one. According to COVID-19 safety guidelines, students have been asked to wear gloves while writing the exam, which have raised concerns from aspirants and parents alike.