Why NEET Students Are Taking NTA To Court: Controversy Explained

The results of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test for Undergraduates (NEET-UG) 2024, released by the National Testing Agency (NTA) on June 4, have sparked significant controversy.

This year, the exam, which is critical for admission to medical, dental and AYUSH courses, saw an unusually high number of candidates achieving perfect scores and raised several concerns among students and educators alike.

Students have been calling for an investigation into the allegations and the matter is currently being heard by the Supreme Court.

The NTA has issued clarifications, but the response has done little to allay the concerns that students have expressed.

In this article, we break down the main issues that plagued the NEET exam this year.

The Unprecedented Number of Perfect Scores

One of the primary issues is the extraordinarily high number of candidates — 67 in total — who achieved a perfect score of 720/720.

This is a stark increase compared to previous years, where the number of perfect scorers was significantly lower. This sudden spike has led to suspicions and claims of irregularities.

Specifically, it was noted that 44 of these toppers had incorrectly answered a basic physics question, yet they were still given grace marks due to an outdated mistake in the NCERT Class 12 textbook.

Discrepancies in Scoring

Another point of contention is the appearance of scores like 718 and 719, which many claimed should not be possible under the examination scheme.

The NTA clarified that these scores resulted from “compensatory marks” awarded to candidates who faced time loss during the exam at certain centres.

This adjustment was made following complaints from students in Bahadurgarh, Delhi and Chhattisgarh about not receiving their full allotted time. A grievance redressal committee reviewed these issues and awarded compensatory marks based on a Supreme Court-established formula.

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Allegations of Paper Leaks and Wrong Question Papers

Further complicating matters were allegations of a question paper leak in Patna. Although the Bihar Police's Economic Offences Unit seized various items from suspects, the Special Investigation Team has not confirmed a leak.

Additionally, in Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan, some Hindi-medium students were mistakenly given English-medium question papers, leading them to walk out and post the paper online during the exam period.

Early Declaration of Results

The NTA faced scrutiny for releasing the results 10 days ahead of the scheduled date. They defended the early release, stating that it followed the completion of necessary result processing checks and adhered to established procedures.

The NTA also highlighted its efficiency in managing to declare results for approximately 23 lakh candidates within 30 days.

High Cutoffs and Increased Competition

This year’s exam saw a significant increase in the cutoff scores, which the NTA attributed to the higher number of candidates and their overall improved performance.

A record 23.81 lakh students registered for NEET UG 2024, up from 20.87 lakh the previous year. The higher number of high-performing students naturally led to higher cutoff scores.

The controversies surrounding NEET-UG 2024 involve multiple facets, from allegations of paper leaks and scoring irregularities to procedural issues in administering the exam.

Supreme Court Says No Stay On Counselling

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court issued a notice to the Centre and the NTA regarding a petition seeking the cancellation of this year’s NEET for undergraduate medical courses.

Justice Amanullah emphasised the need for answers from the NTA, citing concerns over the exam’s integrity. The advocate representing the petitioners requested a stay on the counselling process, but the bench declined, allowing it to proceed.

The petition on June 1, before the results were declared, calls for the exam to be conducted again due to the alleged leak. Additional petitions challenging the NTA’s decision to award grace marks were not addressed in this session.

The writ petition questions the sanctity of the May 5 exam and seeks its cancellation.

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