This year onwards, admission to undergraduate medical (MBBS) courses in colleges all over the country will be through a single entrance exam. The decision, taken in October as per the National Medical Commission Act 2019, merged MBBS admission of AIIMS and JIPMER into National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET), thus making NEET the single gateway for MBBS admission in the country. Till 2019-20 academic year, there were two other entrance examinations apart from NEET which were held nationally, AIIMS MBBS entrance test and JIPMER MBBS entrance test.
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However, NEET, the only and undoubtedly the biggest admission entrance exam, will be held in the OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) format this time also unlike other entrance exams including the engineering exam, Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) which are computer based tests.
NEET is one among the 16 entrance exams, mostly held for admission, that are being conducted by the government authorized National Testing Agency (NTA) and is the only exam that is not held in computers.
AIIMS MBBS and JIPMER MBBS tests, which have been merged with NEET this year onwards, were earlier conducted in computers and not on pen paper mode.
In OMR exam, candidates have to mark the answer sheet in pen or pencil and the answer sheet, which is machine readable, will be evaluated based on the responses marked by the candidate.
While in computer based tests, the candidates have to reply on already downloaded answer sheets using a computer mouse.
In August 2018, the MHRD scrapped the idea of conducting NEET in computer based format citing one of the reasons that it may put aspirants from rural areas at a disadvantageous position. However for all the computer based tests, NTA has test practice centres for the aspirants from rural areas so that they have ample opportunity to acquaint themselves with the format.
“The change in the NEET exam pattern as against the statement earlier, which will now be a single exam in pen-and-paper mode and in the same number of languages as has been conducted last year, is on the request of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which wanted the same pattern followed last year to be maintained,” news agency PTI quoted an official saying.
NEET began in 2013 and is held once in a year, except in 2016. Though it was a speculation that government may conduct the exam twice, like the JEE (main), but as of now no decision in this regard has come to the fore.
NEET scores have validity for three years.
Apart from NEET, Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET), the recruitment exam for teachers conducted by CBSE is also held in OMR sheets. More than 20 lakh take the CTET.