Like removing poisonous lizard from a meal: Doctors criticise NTA decision to conduct NEET UG re-exam

The fairest solution would have been to address the issue of lost time by granting extra time instead of grace marks opines a doctor.

BySumit Jha

Published Jun 14, 2024 | 7:00 AM Updated Jun 14, 2024 | 7:00 AM


“I am a little disappointed that I got this many marks, but I will prepare again. There is no problem with that. I will prepare for the examinations again. I want to tell everyone who is going to retake the exam, don’t get discouraged. Prepare again. We took the exam a few days ago, and with ten days of preparation, you can do well,” said Anjali Yadav from Jhajjar, Haryana, after the announcement for re-exam for students who received grace marks in NEET.

She had scored 720 marks. She added that she was not entirely in favour of this decision by the NTA, but that she wants to qualify “on my own and not rely on grace marks”.

“I never wanted a re-NEET, but I want to tell all students to see this re-examination as another opportunity because this time, you have time to prepare properly and can give it your best shot,” Anjali told ANI.

As students try to compose themselves after the Supreme Court order regarding the NTA’s decision, many doctors’ associations have expressed disappointment with the ruling.

NEET re-examination

The Union government, on Thursday, 13 June, informed the Supreme Court that the NTA’s decision to award grace marks to 1,563 NEET-UG 2024 candidates had been withdrawn.

The government further informed the top court that students who were given grace marks will have the option to retake the test on 23 June.

The re-test results will be declared on 30 June, and counselling for admission to MBBS, BDS, and other courses will start on 6 July.

In the case of students who do not wish to take the retest, their scores from the exam held on 5 May will be considered.

Later, in the evening, the National Testing Agency was also notified of the re-examination.

The Supreme Court stated that all pleas, including those seeking the cancellation of NEET-UG 2024 due to allegations of malpractices, will be taken up on 8 July.

Related: From grace marks to alleged paper leak: NEET UG exam row explained

The poisonous lizard in meal

Reacting to the NTA decision to reconduct the re-examinations for the 1,563 students, Dr Dhruv Chauhan, a health activist and National Council Coordinator of IMA-JDN, said that the NEET UG Exam issue is now deviated by the government by telling the Supreme Court that they have cancelled the score-cards of 1563 NEET-UG candidates who were given grace marks.

“Centre adds that these 1563 students will be given an option to take a re-test. But the NEET Exam was leaked as per the FIR and arrests are testimony to it. Now they have hidden these irregularities under the name of 1563 students,” he posted on X.

He added it’s exactly like when a poisonous lizard falls in your meal and “instead of removing the entire meal they just remove the lizard to save their work done on cooking it”.

He pointed out that an exam whose foundation is based upon allegations of scams cannot be supported.

“The PILs harmed the students. 1563 students was not the issue. PILs did not argue on issues like digression in marks vs ranks; The high marks; the 67 top tankers; paper leak etc. It was about malfeasance. It was about the sanctity of the exam,” said educationist Maheshwer Peri, taking to X to post on the issue.

“It’s like the Vyapam Scam Part 2. In the press conference, they established a high-power committee, but the NTA’s Director General is leading the team, which makes it a biased decision. We demand immediate intervention from the Ministries of Education and Health independently. A thorough and independent investigation is essential to restore confidence in the examination process,” United Doctors Front Association president Dr Lakshya Mittal told South First.

He added that he called for a high-level inquiry, potentially led by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), conducted without the involvement of NTA personnel to ensure impartiality and credibility.

“The future and well-being of our students are at stake, and we must take decisive actions to safeguard their interests and ensure a fair and transparent examination system,” he said.

He also raised the point of the emotional toll on the students who wrote the exam.

“What about the nearly 24 lakh candidates who participated in the exam? The emotional and mental toll on these students cannot be overlooked, especially in light of the reported instances of suicides linked to the stress and uncertainty surrounding the exam process,” he asked.

Related: NEET row: Number of top rankers to go down to 61 from 67 as NTA withdraws grace marks

Still hope to get into a college

The NTA has said that they will start counselling from 6 July. Even though many of the students who took the test and scored better but not good ranks, are hopeful that in some states like Telangana, where there are more medical colleges, they might get a seat.

“I have been preparing for the examination for two years. I started preparing right after my 12th grade. I initially scored 375 marks. This is my last attempt. This year, I undertook preparation I was interested in a particular college. As a result, this year I scored 475 marks. My rank now is around 2.4 lakh. Last year, around this time, my rank was around 2.69 lakh. Although my marks are higher this year, the rank is not much different,” said Swathi, a NEET aspirant from Telangana to South First.

“Even with a rank of 2.4 lakh, I think there is a possibility of getting a seat because there is a reservation for Category SC, said Swathi.”

However, on the other hand, there are student organisations in Telangana that also ask for re-examinations.

“The issue lies in the disparity between students who have scored exceptionally well and those who have scored mediocre marks. For instance, I know a student who scored almost 715 marks but lost one mark due to marking one question wrong. Because of the grace marks awarded to other students, his rank dropped to around 650, which has affected his chances of getting his desired seat,” explained Dr Sai Sri Harsha, President of Telangana Juniors Doctors Association(TJUDA).

“However, there are complications with offering a re-exam. The new question paper might be tougher or easier than the original, affecting the fairness of the process. If the re-exam paper is tougher, the 1,563 students will face additional challenges. If it is easier, those who took the original, potentially harder paper will be at a disadvantage,” he said.

He pointed out that the fairest solution would have been to address the issue of lost time during the original exam, perhaps by granting extra time instead of grace marks. This approach would eliminate biases and ensure a level playing field.

“Still, every solution has its pros and cons. A re-exam might result in different scores for students who initially performed well. The logistics and costs associated with conducting a re-exam for all candidates are also significant considerations. While this might be challenging logistically and financially, it would be the most equitable solution to maintain the integrity of the examination process and support all students fairly,” he said.

(Edited by Neena)

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