What are the controversies surrounding NEET 2024: A detailed analysis

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SAS Kirmani
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New Delhi: The National Testing Agency (NTA) is an autonomous and self-sustained testing organization established by the Ministry of Education (MoE), Government of India.

The primary purpose of the NTA is to conduct efficient, transparent, and international standard tests to assess the competency of candidates for admission to premier higher education institutions.

It conducts various entrance exams, including:

1. Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Main for engineering.

2. National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) UG for medical.

3. Common University Entrance Test (CUET) UG/PG for admission to undergraduate and postgraduate courses in central universities and other institutions.

4. Graduate Pharmacy Aptitude Test (GPAT) for pharmacy.

5. Common Management Admission Test (CMAT) for management programs.

NEET 2024 controversies

The results of the 2024 NEET examination, announced on June 4, 2024, coincided with parliamentary election results and have sparked significant controversies. These controversies have led to political disputes and questions about the credibility of the NTA. The main issues include:

1. High number of perfect scores

Issue- 67 students scored a perfect 720, a significant increase from previous years where perfect scores were typically in single digits.

NTA's Explanation- The paper was simpler compared to previous years.

2. Multiple correct answers

Issue- Two different correct answers for the same question.

NTA's Explanation- This was due to differences between the new and old NCERT books. Both answers were considered correct after receiving 13,373 petitions. However, this led to a discrepancy for students who did not attempt the question to avoid negative marking.

3. Inconsistent scores

Issue- Two students scored 718 and 719 marks, which is inconsistent with the marking scheme.

NTA's Explanation- Grace marks were awarded to 1,563 aspirants due to time loss during the exam.

4. Early result announcement

Issue- Results were announced 10 days earlier than the scheduled date of June 14.

NTA's Explanation- This has been perceived as an attempt to showcase efficiency but has raised doubts about the preparation and verification process.

5. Multiple toppers from the same centre

Issue- A high concentration of top scorers from the same examination centre.

Implication- This raises concerns about potential selective cheating at specific centres.

6. Administrative Mismanagement- Reports of time loss due to mismanagement, such as the distribution and collection of question papers and torn answer sheets.

7. Allegations of Paper Leak- Allegations of paper leaks have been made, and a committee has been set up to investigate.

8. Reopening of Registration- The registration portal was reopened for two days on April 9 and 10, after the initial closing date of March 16. The reasons provided by NTA for this were vague, raising further suspicions.

Broader issues with NTA examinations

In addition to the NEET 2024 controversies, the NTA has faced several other issues in the past:

1. Technical Glitches- Candidates have reported problems with logging in, slow systems, and sudden disconnections during online exams.

2. Exam Paper Leaks- There have been instances of exam paper leaks, undermining the credibility of the testing process.

3. Errors in Question Papers and Answer Keys- Complaints about errors and discrepancies have raised concerns about fairness and accuracy.

4. Accessibility Issues- The shift to computer-based testing has posed challenges for students from rural and economically weaker backgrounds.

5. Normalization Process- The process used to equate scores across different shifts has been contentious, with some candidates feeling it unfairly impacts their rankings.

6. Handling of COVID-19- The decision to conduct exams amid the pandemic led to health and safety concerns.

Political fallout of NEET controversy

The NEET 2024 results have also triggered a political issue. Opposition leaders have voiced their concerns:

Rahul Gandhi- Alleged gross irregularities and assured students he would raise the issue in Parliament.

Akhilesh Yadav- Claimed that exam leaks have become a business under BJP rule.

AAP- Demanded a Supreme Court-supervised Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the irregularities.

Southern States- Similar concerns were raised by leaders in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh.

The NEET 2024 controversies have raised significant questions about the credibility and efficiency of the NTA.

While we await the intervention and direction of the Supreme Court, it is crucial for the NTA to address these issues transparently and effectively to regain trust and ensure fairness in the examination process.

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