NEET-NET Crisis: The Reason Behind India’s Failing Exam System


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NEET-NET Crisis: The Reason Behind India’s Failing Exam System Blog Image

Why in News?

  • The NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) controversy represents a culmination of systemic failures and poor policy implementation over the years.
  • This scandal, marked by recurrent paper leaks, incorrect results leading to tragic aspirant suicides, and inexplicable awarding of grace marks, has eroded public trust in the National Testing Agency (NTA).
  • Therefore, it is imperative to examine the roots and ramifications of these issues, offering a nuanced understanding and proposing potential reforms.

Incidents of Recent Paper Leaks and Their Impact

  • Recent controversies surrounding NEET have highlighted significant flaws in its administration.
  • Leaks of examination papers and the release of incorrect results have not only led to a loss of trust but have also been linked to tragic aspirant suicides.
  • In the latest instance, an unprecedented 67 students achieved perfect scores, raising suspicions of systemic manipulation.
  • Additionally, over 1,560 students received grace marks without transparent justification, further eroding confidence in the National Testing Agency (NTA).
  • The government’s cancellation of the National Eligibility Test (NET) due to similar issues compounds doubts about the integrity of these examinations.

Origin of NEET Policy, its Objectives and Implementation Challenges

  • Standardising Educational Competence
    • One of the primary motivations for instituting NEET was the need to standardise the educational competence of students entering medical colleges.
    • Before NEET, there was a noticeable disparity in the foundational knowledge of basic sciences such as Chemistry, Physics, and Biology among students from different educational backgrounds.
    • This disparity often led to significant variations in the quality of medical graduates, as students from some regions or institutions possessed insufficient understanding of these crucial subjects.
    • By implementing NEET, the Ministry of Health aimed to ensure that all medical aspirants, regardless of their educational background, met a minimum standard of competence in the basic sciences.
  • Reducing the Number of Entrance Examinations
    • Before NEET, India’s medical aspirants faced several entrance examinations and there were approximately 46 different entrance exams conducted by various medical colleges and institutions, each with its own syllabus, format, and evaluation criteria.
    • This multiplicity of exams created significant stress and confusion for students, who had to prepare for and appear in multiple tests within a short period.
    • The policy aimed to consolidate these numerous exams into a single, standardised test—NEET.
    • This move was expected to simplify the admission process, reduce the financial and logistical burden on students, and ensure a more straightforward and equitable selection process.
    • By having one common entrance examination, the government hoped to streamline the process, making it more efficient and less cumbersome for all stakeholders involved.
  • Eliminating Capitation Fees
    • Another critical issue NEET sought to address was the rampant practice of capitation fees in private medical colleges.
    • Capitation fees are essentially donations or bribes paid by students to secure admission, often bypassing merit-based selection criteria.
    • This practice not only compromised the quality of medical education but also made it inaccessible to deserving students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
    • By basing admissions solely on NEET scores, the policy aimed to curtail the discretion of private medical colleges in selecting students.
    • This merit-based approach was intended to ensure that only the most qualified candidates gained admission, irrespective of their financial background.
    • The elimination of capitation fees was seen as a step towards fostering transparency and fairness in the admission process, thereby enhancing the credibility of medical education in India.
  • Challenges in Implementation
    • While the objectives of NEET were clear and well-intentioned, the implementation of the policy encountered several challenges.
    • In 2013, the Supreme Court suspended the scheme following petitions from private colleges that argued NEET’s centralised process infringed on their autonomy.
    • However, a five-judge bench restored NEET in 2016, reaffirming the need for a unified examination system.
    • One of the persistent issues was the lack of a uniform standard for school education across India.
    • Central government schools followed the CBSE syllabus, which was generally more rigorous than the syllabi of state boards and the International Baccalaureate (IB) programs in private schools.
    • This disparity led to accusations of bias, as NEET’s standards were perceived to favour students from CBSE backgrounds.

The Opposition of NEET: The Case of Tamil Nadu

  • Tamil Nadu has consistently opposed NEET, advocating for its state policy of linking medical college admissions to high school performance.
  • The state’s Expert Committee, led by Justice A.K. Rajan, revealed that rural students and those from Tamil medium schools were disproportionately disadvantaged by NEET.
  • Between 2017 and 2021, admissions of Tamil medium students plummeted from 15% to as low as 1.6%, and rural student admissions dropped from 62% to 50%.
  • This decline has significant implications for Tamil Nadu’s public health system, which relies on rural students to work in primary health centres.

Necessary Key Reforms to Address the Crisis of NEET

  • Extending the MBBS Degree
    • One potential reform is to extend the duration of the MBBS degree to six years, incorporating a pre-medical year.
    • This additional year would be dedicated to bringing students up to a standardised level in critical subjects such as Zoology, Chemistry, and Physics.
    • This approach has historical precedence; during the 1960s and 1970s, medical education in India included a preparatory year to ensure all students possessed the necessary foundational knowledge.
  • Decentralising Examinations
    • Another critical reform is to decentralise the examination process, allowing states and universities to conduct their own entrance exams.
    • The centralisation of NEET has led to significant disparities and dissatisfaction, particularly among students from non-CBSE backgrounds.
    • State and university-level exams can be tailored to the specific educational standards and curricula of their regions, making them more relevant and fairer for local students.
    • Universities and states can adopt more flexible and innovative examination formats that better assess students' knowledge and skills.
  • Constituting Regional Boards
    • An intermediate solution could involve the creation of regional examination boards that standardise exams within specific geographic areas.
    • These boards could operate under the guidance of a central body but retain the flexibility to adapt to local educational standards.
    • Regional boards can strike a balance between national standardisation and local relevance, ensuring exams are fair and comprehensive.
  • Improving School Education
    • A long-term solution to the issues plaguing NEET involves fundamentally improving the quality of school education across India.
    • This requires comprehensive reforms in governance, curriculum, and infrastructure.
    • Shifting from rote learning to inquiry-based and critical thinking-oriented education.
    • Curricula should be regularly updated to include the latest scientific and educational advancements.


  • The current NEET crisis is representative of a broader systemic failure in ensuring high-quality school education in India.
  • The long-term solution lies in improving the school system, decentralising examinations, and establishing robust oversight mechanisms.

Only through such comprehensive efforts can confidence and credibility be restored in the examination system, ensuring fairness and integrity for all students.

Q) What is the National Testing Agency (NTA)?

The National Testing Agency (NTA) is an autonomous organisation established by the Ministry of Education, Government of India, in 2017. Its primary purpose is to conduct entrance examinations for higher educational institutions in India. The NTA aims to ensure a transparent, efficient, and standardised testing process for various competitive exams, including JEE Main, NEET-UG, UGC-NET, and others.

Q) How does the National Testing Agency ensure the fairness and reliability of its exams?

The National Testing Agency ensures fairness and reliability in its exams through several measures. The NTA employs advanced technology, including computer-based testing, to minimise errors and biases. It follows strict standardised procedures for question paper development, examination conduct, and evaluation. Robust security protocols are in place to prevent malpractices and ensure the integrity of the examination process. And, the NTA provides detailed information about exam patterns, syllabi, and marking schemes, ensuring transparency for all candidates.

Source:The Indian Express