More exam centres, strict Covid-19 protocols: Govt precautions for NEET

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The crucial National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) is being held across the country on Sunday amid stringent checks in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The National Testing Agency (NTA), which is organising the exam, has taken a slew of measures like increasing the number of exam centres and reducing number of students in a room to ensure the coronavirus disease doesn’t create any problem.

The NEET comes days after another prestigious exam – the JEE (Main) – was held across the country. Here are the things to know about how the NTA is conducting these exams:

• The number of exam centres have been increased from originally-planned 2,546 to 3,843. The number of candidates per room has been halved – from earlier 24 to 12.

 

• A total of 15.97 lakh candidates have registered for the exam.

• According to the NTA, the exam centres will ensure staggered entry of students. The candidates have also been given a set of instructions (or guidelines) on dos and don’ts for proper social distancing.

• All the candidates have been asked to come to the exam centres with masks and sanitisers, but once they enter, the students will have to use the masks provided by the examination authority. “Each candidate will be offered a three-ply mask at the time of entry and are expected to wear the same during the examination in order to avoid any form of unfair means at the time of examination,” an official of the NTA was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

• Making hand sanitisers available at the entrance of the examination centre and inside the exam hall at all times, replacing the process of checking the admit cards of candidates with barcode readers, increasing the number of examination centres, alternate seating plans, fewer candidates per room and staggered entry and exit are among the other steps the NTA has taken.

• The NEET, a pen and paper based test unlike engineering entrance exam JEE, has already been deferred twice in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. The exam was originally scheduled for May 3, but was pushed to July 26, and then to September 13.

• A number of students had protested seeking the postponement of the exam further due to the pandemic, but the government opposed the move. The students had approached the Supreme Court too with their demand, but the apex court dismissed their plea, saying a “precious year” of students cannot be wasted and life has to go on.

• Several Opposition leaders, including Congress’ Rahul Gandhi, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, her Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik, DMK president MK Stalin and Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia had also demanded that this, as well as the JEE, be postponed. However, their petitions were dismissed by the Supreme Court.