NEET grace marks fine but panel to review results: NTA

| | New Delhi
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NEET grace marks fine but panel to review results: NTA

Sunday, 09 June 2024 | Pioneer News Service | New Delhi

Amid allegations of inflation of marks in the NEET-UG medical entrance exam, the National Testing Agency (NTA) announced on Saturday that the Education Ministry has set up a four-member panel to review the grace marks awarded to more than 1,500 candidates.

The NTA denied any irregularities and said the changes made in the NCERT textbooks and grace marks for losing time at the examination centres were some of the reasons behind the students scoring higher marks.

“A high-powered committee has been set up to review the results of over 1,500 candidates. The four-member panel headed by a former UPSC chairman will submit its recommendations within a week and the results of these candidates might be revised,” NTA Director General Subodh Kumar Singh said at a Press conference on Saturday.

The issue took a political turn with the AAP demanding a Supreme Court-monitored SIT probe into the alleged irregularities and the Congress alleging paper leaks, rigging and corruption have become an integral part of many examinations. The party also accused the BJP of cheating youngsters and playing with their futures. Indian Medical Association too has demanded as CBI probe on the allegations.

The Maharashtra Government has sought immediate cancellation of last month’s NEET exam, alleging that its results have caused injustice to the students from the state. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin said the trends from the latest NEET results have once again vindicated the DMK on its stand opposing the exam and reiterated that the entrance test goes against social justice and federalism.

There have been calls from several quarters for a re-exam alleging that the grace marks awarded to make up for the loss of time at six exam centres have led to the inflation of marks and tampered with the chances of other candidates.  These centres are from Meghalaya, Bahadurgarh in Haryana, Dantewada and Balodh in Chhattisgarh, Surat in Gujarat and Chandigarh.

Singh denied any paper leak and irregularities in the exam and reiterated that the integrity of the crucial test had been compromised. He further said awarding of grace marks has not impacted the qualifying criteria of the exam and the review of results of the affected candidates will not impact the admission process.

According to experts, the mark inflation in NEET UG 2024 result is expected to make securing a spot in medical school this year more difficult. Some aspiring students have turned to online platforms to demand the cancellation of the results and a re-examination. Asked about whether the exam will be re-conducted for certain students, the NTA DG said, it will be decided depending upon the committee’s recommendations.

“The idea is to ensure that students who lost time or other students are not at any disadvantage,” he said.

The result of the medical entrance exam was announced on June 4. Sixty seven candidates had shared the first rank in the exam including six from the same centre in Haryana. A record more than 24 lakh candidates had registered for the exam this year.

The Congress in Kerala alleged that results have raised concerns about the authenticity of the national exam for medical courses, with many students casting doubt on the procedure. “The Modi government is directly responsible for this. For the candidates appearing in recruitment exams, then facing several irregularities, getting caught in the labyrinth of paper leaks, is playing with their futures. The BJP has cheated the youth of the country,” Congress Chief Mallikarjun Kharge said in a social media post.

“We demand that a high-level investigation should be conducted under the supervision of the Supreme Court so that our talented students appearing in NEET and other exams get justice,” he had added.

The NTA DG reiterated that the increase in cutoff reflects the competitive nature of the examination and the higher performance standards achieved by the candidates this year. “The number of candidates who appeared in 2023 was 20,38,596 while the number of candidates who appeared in 2024 increased to 23,33,297. The increase in candidates naturally led to an increase in high scorers due to a larger pool of candidates,” he said.

Explaining the rationale behind the awarding of grace marks, Singh said, the process has been completed using a formula devised and adopted by the Supreme Court in a 2018 judgement.

The concerns raised by the candidates through the writ petitions and representations about loss of examination time was ascertained and 1,563 candidates were compensated for the loss of time, and the revised marks of such candidates vary from -20 to 720 marks. Amongst these, the score of two candidates also happens to be 718 and 719 respectively due to compensatory marks,” the official added

The NTA had on May 5 claimed that the distribution of wrong question papers at an exam centre in Rajasthan led to some candidates walking out with the papers. The agency had denied any leak of the question paper.

A day later, the NTA had reiterated that the reports claiming question paper leak in the medical entrance exam NEET-UG are “completely baseless and without any ground”, and every question paper has been accounted.

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