NEET UG results: Amid student suicides and suicide threats, allegations of a nationwide scam

The merit list released by the NTA revealed that eight students from the same centre scored 720, sparking talks of potential irregularities.

BySumit Jha

Published Jun 06, 2024 | 9:02 PMUpdatedJun 06, 2024 | 9:04 PM

NEET exam.

A day after the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (Undergraduate) or NEET-UG results were announced, an 18-year-old medical aspirant named Bagisha Tiwari allegedly jumped from the ninth floor of a building in Kota in Rajasthan, according to police reports on Thursday, 6 June.

Bagisha, who resided on the fifth floor of the multi-storey building with her mother and brother, reportedly died by suicide on Wednesday.

Despite being rushed to a private hospital, she succumbed to her injuries an hour later, according to the local reports.

Hailing from the Rewa district in Madhya Pradesh, Bagisha had reportedly been preparing for NEET-UG at a coaching institute in Kota.

Her brother, a 12th-standard student, is also preparing for the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE), according to Circle Inspector Harinarayan Sharma from the Jawahar Nagar Police Station.

The National Testing Agency (NTA) declared the NEET-UG results on Tuesday.

Bagisha’s death marked the 10th suspected suicide by a student in Kota, a major coaching hub, since January.

Last year, 26 suspected suicides by coaching students were reported in Kota, the highest in recent years.

Inspector Sharma noted that Bagisha jumped from the ninth-floor balcony. A woman who witnessed the incident attempted to intervene but was unable to stop her.

Family members and others quickly took Bagisha to a nearby private hospital, where she died an hour later during treatment.

The body had been placed in the mortuary of Maharao Bhim Singh (MBS) Hospital for a post-mortem examination, which would be conducted once her father arrived, having been informed of the incident.

An initial inquiry revealed that Bagisha had appeared for the NEET-UG exam, but the reason for her drastic action remains unclear.

The case gained widespread attention on social media, coinciding with the release of the NEET results by the NTA, which sparked a controversy.

NEET UG results are a mess: Aspirants question alleged paper leak, scoring process

NEET results controversy

The results of NEET-UG 2024, announced on Tuesday, sparked widespread surprise and controversy.

An unprecedented 67 candidates achieved the All India Rank (AIR) 1, scoring full marks (720). This led to allegations on social media of a NEET paper leak scam.

Scorecards showing marks of 718 or 719 also surfaced, raising further questions.

The controversy stemmed from NEET’s marking scheme, which awards four marks for each correct answer and deducts one mark for each incorrect one.

Thus, after the full score of 720, the next possible score should be 716 if one question is unanswered and 715 if one question is answered incorrectly. This discrepancy in scores has fueled suspicion.

Adding to the speculation, the merit list released by the NTA revealed that eight students from the same centre scored 720 marks, further intensifying discussions about potential irregularities.

The cut-off scores this year are significantly higher, with students scoring less than 660 marks having slim chances of securing admission to government medical colleges.

This is a sharp increase from the previous year, when students with 600 marks were able to secure seats in government colleges.

These concerns, particularly in light of the persistent rumours about the paper leak, have raised serious questions about the credibility of NEET 2024.

A distressed student posted on X (formerly Twitter), “Three students have already committed suicide in the past 24 hours because of #NEET. I might be on the same path. Getting 653 with a rank of 27k is criminal. Last year, the rank for this score was 7k. This is a scam. PLEASE HELP US @abhiandniyu @dhruvrahtee @poetnitish. Here is my result for proof.”

The NTA awarded grace marks as per a court order, but students argued that this sudden decision was unjust as the agency did not clarify the methodology used to award these grace marks. Calls for transparency in the process have intensified.

The controversy surrounding the NTA is growing as hundreds of thousands of students demand a re-examination, citing the lack of clarity in the NTA’s explanations. They have even sought intervention from the Supreme Court.

The fairness of giving grace marks for lost exam time is a major concern among the students.

Related: NTA announces results for medical entrance exam NEET-UG

More skeletons in the cupboard?

Educationalist Maheswar Peri, founder of Careers 360, pointed out several irregularities in the NEET-UG 2024 results.

He mentioned that the results were initially scheduled to be announced on 14 June, but were unexpectedly released on 4 June — 10 days early.

This early release coincided with the nation’s election results, suggesting an attempt to avoid scrutiny.

Peri highlighted that most coaching institutions typically claim top rankers, often paying to do so.

This year, Aakash claimed 21 toppers, Allen claimed 27 rankers, and Narayana and Chaitanya each claimed nine.

This time, 60 of the 67 toppers were claimed by various coaching centres, but six of the eight toppers from the suspect Haryana centre have not been claimed by any institute.

Peri noted that adding to the suspicion, seven of the eight toppers from the Haryana centre only provided their first names, withholding their family names.

This unusual lack of transparency has further fueled doubts about the integrity of the results.

Maheswar Peri also highlighted that AIIMS Delhi has only 56 seats, marking the first time that top-ranked NEET-UG candidates would not all secure a seat of their choice.

If all 67 toppers chose AIIMS Delhi, 11 of them would be denied admission, he noted.

He also criticised the new tie-breaking criteria introduced by NTA for NEET-UG 2024, which contain several potential flaws.

According to the criteria, if two or more candidates achieved the same marks or percentile scores, their inter-se merit would be determined as follows:

  1. Preference will be given to the candidate with higher marks/percentile in Biology (Botany & Zoology).
  2. If still tied, the candidate with higher marks/percentile in Chemistry will be preferred.
  3. If still tied, the candidate with higher marks/percentile in Physics will be preferred.
  4. If still tied, the candidate with the lower ratio of attempted incorrect answers to correct answers across all subjects will be preferred.
  5. If still tied, the candidate with the lower ratio of attempted incorrect answers to correct answers in Biology (Botany & Zoology) will be preferred.
  6. If still tied, the candidate with the lower ratio of attempted incorrect answers to correct answers in Chemistry will be preferred.
  7. If still tied, the candidate with the lower ratio of attempted incorrect answers to correct answers in Physics will be preferred.
  8. If still tied, the candidate with the earlier application number in ascending order will be preferred.

The eighth point, which uses the ascending order of the application number as a tie-breaker, has sparked significant controversy.

Peri criticised this criterion, sarcastically asking, “What next? Height? Weight? Shirt color? [sic]”

He thus highlighted the absurdity and potential unfairness of using such an arbitrary measure to break ties among candidates with identical scores.

Peri also highlighted significant discrepancies in the NEET ranking and marking system over the years.

He pointed out that in 2023, a score of 700 marks corresponded to a rank of 294, while in 2024, the same score corresponded to a rank of 1,770.

Similarly, in 2023, a score of 650 marks resulted in a rank of 6,803, whereas it corresponds to a rank of 21,724 in 2024. For a score of 600 marks, the rank was 28,629 in 2023, but it is 80,468 in 2024.

Peri emphasised that such drastic variance in one year is implausible.

NEET’s marking scheme awards four marks for each correct answer and deducts one for each incorrect one. Despite this, some students received scores of 717, 718, and 719, which is mathematically impossible.

Peri stated, “I do not use these words lightly. NEET (UG) 2024 is a SCAM. A lot is being hidden. The ultimate sufferers are students. [sic]”

Related: Examinees, kin among 13 arrested in NEET question paper leak case

Congress takes up cudgels

Political parties have now taken up cudgels — apparently in support of the students. Congress has claimed a paper leak.

“After the NEET exam, now the NEET result is also in controversy. After the NEET results were declared, questions are being raised on 6 students from the same centre getting 720 out of 720 marks. Apart from this, many other irregularities related to NEET exam have also come to light,” the party said in a statement on X.

It added: “First due to paper leak and now due to result error, the future of lakhs of youth of the country is getting ruined. It is clear that this government cannot get any paper done without leaking it. Sir claims to stop wars in foreign countries but he is unable to even stop paper leaks in the country.”

Related: Plea by candidates in Supreme Court seeks fresh NEET-UG 2024 exam

Matter in Supreme Court

Demanding a fresh NEET-UG 2024 exam, a group of candidates has petitioned the Supreme Court, raising concerns about a paper leak and the integrity of the test.

The NTA has been named as a party in the plea filed by Shivangi Mishra and others.

The plea, filed on 1 June through lawyer Usha Nandini V, alleges that the NEET-UG test held on 5 May was marred by malpractices, including several instances of paper leaks.

The petitioners argued that the alleged paper leak violated Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution as it provided an unfair advantage to some candidates over others who attempted the examination honestly.

The plea sought a direction from the Supreme Court to conduct a fresh examination to ensure fairness.

According to PTI reports, the plea may be listed before a vacation bench soon.

(Edited by Arkadev Ghoshal)