New Delhi: Madhulika Dey, an aspiring medical student from Ranchi, is set to appear for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) in September this year. But being an asthma patient, she is worried about being able to breathe in a mask for three hours in the exam centre.
Wearing a mask at all times is one of the rules that students are supposed to follow while appearing for the JEE and NEET amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dey is among thousands of engineering and medical aspirants who are preparing to take these exams this year but have been demanding their postponement due to practical challenges like travelling to faraway exam centres and the difficulty of wearing a mask for three hours under pressure.
The government, though, has consistently stated that the entrance tests will take place according to the new schedule — 1-6 September for the JEE and 13 September for the NEET — despite the growing demand for their postponement.
Increased tension, loss of confidence
Krishna Singh, an aspiring engineer who lives in Siliguri, West Bengal, said he will have to be placed in quarantine when he comes back from the exam centre after taking the JEE.
“Two months ago, I had come back from my coaching centre in Kota and was placed in 14-day quarantine outside my society. This time again, I will have to spend some time in quarantine,” he told ThePrint.
“There are other issues also… I have a sinus problem and I sneeze uncontrollably at times. If that happens in the exam centre, I will be suspected of being Covid-positive and will have to sit with other Covid-positive candidates in an isolation room,” Singh said.
“I am getting tense thinking about all this. There are many practical challenges to holding an exam during a pandemic; I don’t think the government is paying attention to the issue.”
The constant discussion about the exams on social media and in the news has made some students lose their concentration, and many say they are mentally fatigued already.
A NEET aspirant from Madhya Pradesh, who did not wish to be named, said, “I am extremely tired and mentally exhausted with all the discussion going around NEET and JEE.
“As it is, the NEET is so tough to score on. There are 180 questions in the paper and every question takes one minute to answer. In normal circumstances too, it takes a lot of strength and will power to answer those questions in the stipulated time; now it will take 10 times more with a mask and gloves on.”
Students also said their preparations had been derailed, leading to uncertainty and loss of confidence. Since coaching centres have been shut due to the pandemic, students have had to resort to online classes, and issues like patchy internet connections and lack of resources have been a problem for activities like doubt solving and mock tests.
Anish Singh Rathode from West Bengal’s Durgapur, who is also set to appear for NEET this year, said: “It’s mentally exhausting to see discussions going on about NEET everywhere. Preparations have been hit because there is a limit to how much we can do in online classes provided by coaching centres.”