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Final call on NEET 2021 schedule ‘soon’ as education, health ministries review Covid situation

The 1 August date for NEET was announced in first half of March, before second wave had become apparent. Students anxious as application forms not out yet.

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New Delhi: The Union Ministry of Education is in consultation with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to take a final call on the exam schedule for National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) after taking the Covid situation into account, ThePrint has learnt.

The NEET 2021 undergraduate exam, meant for admission to medical colleges, is scheduled to be held on 1 August, but application forms for the test are not yet out, which has left students anxious about the exam schedule, with many taking to social media to seek clarity on the matter.

Sources in the education ministry told ThePrint that a decision on the NEET schedule would be taken soon.   

“We are in consultation with the health ministry regarding the NEET schedule. Since it is a single-day exam, we have to be very careful about the dates. We need to review the Covid situation in the entire country before conducting the exams,” a senior official in the ministry said. 

The registration process for NEET usually starts nearly 60 days before the exam date. The National Testing Agency (NTA), the agency that conducts NEET, gives students one month to fill up the application form, while another month is used up by issuance of admit cards and other formalities. 

This year, June has nearly ended — and the exam date is a month away — but the process has not even begun. The 1 August date was announced in the first half of March, before the second wave had become apparent.

Last year, NEET was conducted in September. The same schedule can be followed this year if the situation is conducive, ministry sources said. The government, the sources added, is looking at Covid cases and the lockdown status in various states and UTs before taking a final call. 

“When the 1 August date was announced, the situation seemed conducive for the test, but things have changed over the last two months and we need to review whether such a large-scale exam can be conducted. The decision will be conveyed to students soon,” said the official quoted above. 

Reached for a comment, the official spokesperson of the ministry told ThePrint “to wait for an official announcement”. 

Also Read: ‘Save kids from 3rd wave’: Twitter campaign picks up after teen calls for vaccinating children

‘Hope new date is announced soon’

Several students have expressed their concerns about the NEET schedule on social media. Among other things, they have requested Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank to make an announcement in this regard soon. 

While some users have asked the government to postpone the exam, others have just sought clarity on dates.

Speaking to ThePrint, Chaitali Baruah, a NEET aspirant from Kolkata, said, “NEET forms are not out yet and we are all very anxious, almost certain that the exam will not take place on 1 August. I hope the new date is announced soon enough.” 

According to official figures from the NTA, more than 15 lakh students appeared for the NEET-UG exam in 2020. 

Also Read: Covid is changing the way students pick foreign schools. How country handled virus is a factor


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