Amid the Covid-19 pandemic and unprecedented arrangements made by the authorities, students in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday appeared in the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE-Main).
The first session of the exam for admission to engineering colleges was conducted in the morning at 79 centres - 27 in Telangana and 52 in Andhra Pradesh.
Students who wrote the test from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, were satisfied with the arrangements made at the centres.
They said the authorities ensured social distancing and provided fresh masks on arrival at the centres. Inside the centres, the seating arrangements were made with social distancing between the students.
"I faced no problem. They had made all proper arrangements and guided the students," said a candidate who wrote the exam at a centre in LB Nagar in Hyderabad.
Students had reached the centres two hours before the exam. There were tense moments for a few who arrived late at a couple of centres in Hyderabad.
Some parents complained that they had to cover a 40-50 km distance to reach the centres.
Parents, who accompanied the students, said they had a tough time in reaching the centres as the Road Transport Corporation (RTC) has still not resumed operations while metro services remained suspended.
The second session of the exam began at 3 p.m. The JEE (Main) exams will continue till September 6.
Exam centres were set up in Hyderabad, Rangareddy, Khammam, Nalgonda, Karimnagar, Mahabubnagar, Amaravati, Chittoor, Vijayawada and other places.
Students who had registered for the exams in Hyderabad but had to go back to their native places in Telangana or neighbouring Andhra Pradesh faced hardships.
"We arrived from Nizamabad yesterday evening and had a tough time in reaching the centre," said G. Pushpa, whose daughter appeared in the exam at a centre in L. B. Nagar.
However, overall the parents were relieved that the exams were finally over for their wards. They said till reaching the centres they were tense about whether the exams would get postponed.
They were postponed twice due to the pandemic and students say the uncertainty and confusion of the last few weeks impacted their preparations.
The parents were satisfied that the authorities took all precautions like frisking the students with metal detectors, thermal scanning and allowing them to carry water bottles.
They strictly followed the Covid-19 protocols and guidelines at the centres. The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) laid down by the National Testing Agency (NTA) was followed by sanitizing the exam centres before and after the exam.
As per the SOP, the candidates appearing for the exam have to give a self-declaration stating they are not Covid-19 positive. They were advised to carry a transparent ballpoint pen, additional photograph, personal hand sanitiser, transparent water bottle and original identity proof to the exam centre.
On arrival at the centres, the students were asked to dump the masks they were wearing in the dustbin and pick up fresh masks from a box kept nearby.
For JEE (Main) 72,681 students have registered in Andhra Pradesh and 67,319 in Telangana.
The COVID-19 scare led to 35 per cent dip in registrations for JEE compared to the first phase held in January. Every year, the exam is held in two phases - January and April and the best score is taken into consideration for admission.
In January, 1,29,100 students had appeared in the exam in Andhra Pradesh while 1,00,129 students had written the test in Telangana.