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NTA’s new changes to NEET-UG pattern leave students worried

By, Mumbai
Jul 14, 2021 11:54 PM IST

In view of the reduction of the Class 12 syllabus across education boards, the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for undergraduate (UG) medical and dental students will have a change in paper pattern for the first time since its inception in 2016

In view of the reduction of the Class 12 syllabus across education boards, the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for undergraduate (UG) medical and dental students will have a change in paper pattern for the first time since its inception in 2016.

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The announcement came through the official exam brochure which was released by the National Testing Agency (NTA) late on Tuesday evening.

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Even as students are still unclear about the reason behind this move, the NTA clarified that the changes were introduced keeping in mind the reduction of the syllabus by various school education boards for their Class 12 students in 2020-21, considering the loss of academic time due to Covid. “To rationalise the decision of reduction in the syllabus by various school education boards, the NTA has taken the decision to provide choice in Section “B” for each of the four subjects,” clarified NTA through an information bulletin.

Students have now approached the examination authority for clarity on the marking system of the new paper pattern.

Until 2020, the NEET-UG paper pattern consisted of 180 objective type questions from physics, chemistry and biology (botany and zoology) to be answered on a specially designed sheet using a ballpoint pen only. Each correct answer gives students four marks and each wrong answer deducts one mark. According to NTA, the new paper pattern will now comprise two sections under each subject.

Section A will consist of 35 questions that students have to attempt compulsorily, and section B will consist of 15 questions from which the candidate can choose to attempt any 10 questions. The amount of time to solve the paper remains the same and the marking pattern remains similar to last year as well. This choice of choosing 10 questions out of 15 has confused students.

“When NTA says students can attempt any 10 out of 15, will students be marked in the negative for a wrong answer? Also, if a student chooses to attempt all 15 questions, will the NTA choose only the correct answers for the final marks or choose the first 10 answers only? Such questions are running in all our minds,” said the parent of a NEET-UG aspirant.

After much delay, NTA earlier this week announced that the all-India exam will be conducted on September 12 this year and registrations for the exam started this week. While medical and dental aspirants were relieved to finally get information on their exams, this change in exam pattern has introduced new anxieties for students. “Instead of a 180-mark paper, we will now be attempting a 200 mark paper. This automatically means we should get more time to appear for the exam, but NTA has clarified that we will get three hours only. How is this fair?” asked Soniya Talreja, a NEET-UG aspirant.

In separate letters and emails addressed to the NTA, students and parents have sought clarity to these questions, and at the same time also demanded that NTA release mock test papers for students to solve before they appear for the actual exam.

“We also insist that NTA inform all exam centres to ensure that students are given 15-minute reading time of the question papers before the exam begins so that they are in a good head-space to attempt the three-hour test,” said another parent.

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