Aspiring doctors will get three chances to clear the National Eligibility-Cum-Entrance Test (NEET), the CBSE said on Friday, raising hopes of thousands of candidates who had failed in three earlier attempts and were ineligible to take the test again.
The Medical Council of India (MCI) – which governs medical education in India – held out more hope, saying it had not decided on the number of attempts candidates could take, hinting it could give more chances.
Earlier rules of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which conducts the exams, had held candidates ineligible to take NEET this year if they had failed thrice in the entrance exams – NEET 2016 or the now-discontinued All India Pre-Medical Test.
NEET was launched last year after the Supreme Court threw out a clutch of petitions challenging the single, all-India test for entry to medical and dental colleges.
In a statement late in the evening, the health ministry said NEET-2017 shall be counted as the first attempt, irrespective of the previous attempts in AIPMT/NEET.
An estimated 10 lakh students are likely to take the test on May 7. The online application system has been updated to allow previously barred students to fill their application, the CBSE said.
“Issue of number of attempts in NEET sorted out. Clarification received from MoHFW/MCI that NEET 2017 will be treated as first attempt and two more will be given. CBSE is updating this on website (sic),” HRD minister Prakash Javadekar tweeted.
The board notification will come as a relief for thousands of students who were protesting the earlier directive barring them from taking NEET 2017.
“The matter relating to approval of recommendations of the (MCI) executive committee limiting the number of NEET attempts is yet to be placed before the general body of the council,” said Reena Nayyar, MCI secretary.