Why NEET PG exam date has become a bone of contention

Why NEET PG exam date has become a bone of contention

The exam was first notified to be tentatively held on March 3, then it was rescheduled to July 7 and even then, it was purely tentative which aspirants may have overlooked

The revised NEET PG exam date has sparked discontentment among aspirants raising questions about the uncertainty of their future and the level of their preparedness. With the exam initially slated for July 7, 2024, the exam date has now been changed to June 23, 2024, as per a public notice issued by the National Medical Commission (NMC), creating frustration among them.

The decision to hold the exam in June was made during a meeting involving the Post Graduate Medical Education Board (PGMEB), NMC, along with Medical Counseling Committee (MCC), Directorate General for Health Sciences, and National Board of Examinations (NBE) for Medical Sciences. As per the NEET PG 2024 exam timelines, the results will be announced on July 15, 2024, with counselling scheduled to start from August 5 to October 15, 2024. The academic session is scheduled to start on September 16 while the last date for joining classes is October 21, 2024. Moreover, the NMC has set August 15, 2024, as the internship cut-off date for candidates to be eligible for the exam.

Discussing the reasons behind the change in the exam date, a senior health ministry official on condition of anonymity, says, “The July 7 exam date was tentative, and it was as per the notification issued by NBE. Since there is a ratha yatra on July 7, and keeping in view the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, the exam had to be rescheduled to an earlier date. To postpone the exam would have meant that it would have to be rescheduled in October.”

The official further says that since NEET PG is a high-stakes online exam, jammers (used in examination halls to prevent the use of unfair means) and logistics must be in place. “The exam in October would have thrown the counselling date, declaration of results and the new academic session completely out of gear. Moreover, the exam will require around two lakh live computer terminals on a single day, hence finding a suitable date can be a challenge. With most Saturdays and Sundays booked for other national level entrance exams, June 23 was the only available slot to avoid a logistical nightmare,” he adds.

The source further claims the disappointment among students is understandable and had they been initially allotted the June 23 exam date, there would have been no such hue and cry. Some states such as Kerala, Telangana, according to him, are yet to come back on track post Covid, and if everything had gone as per schedule, the internship cut-off date should ideally have been March 31 and the academic session too would have started earlier.”

The date for the exam was first notified to be tentatively held on March 3, then it was rescheduled to July 7 and even then, it was “purely tentative” which aspirants may have overlooked. With the exam now scheduled to be held on June 23, this is the second time NBE has revised the NEET PG exam date.

The NBE notification dated January 9, 2024, clearly stated, “The conduct of NEET-PG 2024 examination which was earlier notified to be tentatively held on 3rd March 2024 stands rescheduled. The NEET-PG 2024 shall now be conducted on 7th July 2024. The cut-off date for the purpose of eligibility to appear in the NEET-PG 2024 shall be 15th August 2024. The candidates are advised to check the exact dates of examinations from the Information Bulletins/ NBEMS website as the above dates are purely tentative and subject to approvals & confirmations.”

More recently, RTI activist Dr Vivek Pandey filed an RTI on March 24 seeking details about the minutes of the meeting held to reschedule the upcoming NEET PG exam. He questioned the rationale behind the constant changes in the exam schedule and said that it was creating disruption in students’ preparation schedule. “Students were preparing keeping July 7 as the exam date in mind. Their whole plan will be disturbed now that the dates are revised.”

Emphasising that NMC is not likely to make any further amendments, he says, “After receiving information via the RTI, we will try to approach NMC through FORDA (Federation of Resident Doctors Association) and UDFA (United Doctors Front Association) seeking revision of the dates.”

Dr Sanjay Teotia, senior consultant, Balrampur Hospital, Lucknow, explains, “Should the exam be postponed to a later date, the burden of exam logistics and expenses will be high as lakhs of students appear every year for the exam. No doubt, the syllabus for NEET PG exam is lengthy containing all the MBBS subjects and requires enormous time for preparation. Students will not be mentally prepared now that the exam date has been advanced. However, their protest is not justified because preparation for NEET PG exam is a continuous process, though the students always think they will perform better if they get more time.”

Dr Shankul Dwivedi, secretary general, IMA Junior Doctors Network, and himself a NEET PG aspirant, says, “The surprise changes, with no clear reasons reflect poor planning by the examination board. It brings in a lot of apprehensions as aspirants will have to replan their revisions. The only sight of relief is that the notice for advancing the exam date has been issued with considerable margin,” he adds.