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NEET paper will also be online, central government is considering it

PhotoNEET-UG: On the lines of JEE Main and JEE (Advanced), the government is considering the possibility of changing the NEET-UG paper from pen-and-paper mode to online mode. Currently, the NEET exam is conducted in pen-and-paper MCQ mode. In pen-and-paper mode, candidates have to choose their answer from the given options and mark it on the OMR sheet which is optically scanned.

According to a report by the Indian Express, senior officials have said that the central government is considering the possibility of conducting the exam online from next year in view of the ongoing controversy over the integrity of the NEET-UG exam. In the recent few weeks, there have been protests across the country, more than a dozen arrests, a CBI investigation and several court hearings over the paper leak.

Currently, the NEET exam is conducted in pen-and-paper MCQ mode. In the pen-and-paper mode, candidates have to choose their answer from the given options and mark it on the OMR sheet which is optically scanned. The Health Ministry had earlier opposed the suggestion to change this exam to online mode. The NEET-UG exam is conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA).

But currently, computer-based exams like Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Main or JEE Advanced are being seen as a viable option for admission to IITs and engineering colleges. According to reports, this has been discussed in at least three high-level meetings convened in the last one week.

The central government on June 22 constituted a seven-member panel headed by former ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan to recommend reforms in examination processes and data security protocols and to review the structure and functioning of the NTA.

The Health Ministry had opposed

In 2018, the then education minister Prakash Javadekar had announced that NEET would be conducted online and twice a year from 2019. However, the education ministry was forced to withdraw the decision after the health ministry objected to its announcement “without formal consultation”. The health ministry’s concern about the computer-based exam was that it would disadvantage poor and rural students.

When asked about the health ministry’s rethink, a senior official said, “There are many students from rural backgrounds who clear JEE Main and qualify for JEE (Advanced), both of which are computer-based exams. So why should it be a problem for NEET aspirants from rural areas?”