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While there is consensus on the demand for scrapping NEET in the state, there are suggestions to check the trend of repeaters cornering most of the medical seats, leading to disappointment for students who take the exam for the first time.

Actually, most of the students from middle and lower income groups want to take up a job as quickly as possible to support their families. They cannot wait for years and write the NEET examination again and again. Only the affluent section of students can wait for years and afford the money to pay for NEET coaching centres. Most of the students who quit after their first attempt come from less privileged groups. The system now favours the privileged sections and changes must be made to give a fair chance to poor and middle class students too.

Banning students from appearing for NEET for the second time, however, cannot be the right option since this would end the dreams of many aspirants. A compromise formula of awarding concession marks to first-time candidates is mooted by educationists to arrest the trend of repeaters pocketing most of the medical seats.

Even this year, the success rate of repeaters in NEET examination is likely to be higher than that of first-timers, according to sources, indicating that coaching plays a major role in the qualifying test.

Students who have passed Class XII examinations this year constitute only 28.58 per cent of those who have succeeded in NEET. But students who have failed to qualify in the NEET examinations during the previous years and repeated it this year form 71.42 per cent of qualifiers for the medical admission. This shows that repeaters take away a bulk of the medical seats compared to first-time candidates.

A chart comparing the success of candidates who repeated NEET examinations against those who appeared for the first time

This is in contrast to the pattern seen before the introduction of NEET when only an average of 8.12 per cent old students entered the medical courses. About 91.87 per cent of the seats were taken by students who passed Class XII examinations on the same year, the AK Rajan committee constituted by Tamil Nadu government to study the impact of NEET pointed out in its report.

In 2019 – 20, about 99 per cent of those who obtained medical admissions came out of coaching centres and most of them had repeated NEET to emerge successful, the report stated.

Though, an unanimous resolution has been passed in Tamil Nadu assembly seeking permanent exemption for the state from NEET, such an exemption is possible only if the President gives his assent for the proposal. The NEET examination for this year had already been conducted and the results are yet to be announced.

Actually, most of the students from middle and lower income groups want to take up a job as quickly as possible to support their families. They cannot wait for years and write the NEET examination again and again.

Students waiting in queue to write NEET examination at a Centre in Chennai.

The results, however, are expected to be a major disappointment for students who had completed Class XII examinations this year, since most of them are unlikely to find themselves on the list of qualifiers. Students who have finished Class XII examinations during the previous year but failed to clear NEET, persist with their attempts and attend coaching classes. Such students are expected to garner a large share of medical seats this year too and the trend of first-timers losing out in the competition will continue. Again, students who failed to qualify this year will flock the coaching centres, resulting in a vicious cycle.

When the medical and engineering admissions were carried out in Tamil Nadu based on Class XII examinations, some students used to appear for improvement in the same examinations conducted again since the new marks were taken into account for medical admissions. This procedure created a new trend of Class XII repeaters getting a large chunk of the medical seats. The emergence of such a tendency finally forced the state government to abandon the system of taking the improvement marks into consideration. Now the rising pattern of repeaters taking away most of the medical seats has led to serious introspection and educationists urge immediate measures to stop the unhealthy trend.

GR Ravindranath, general secretary, Doctors Association for Social Equality, said a case on fixing age limits for NEET examination is pending in the Supreme Court. He says, “There is consensus in Tamil Nadu that the state must be exempted from NEET, which makes coaching by private institutes mandatory for medical aspirants. The present system helps private coaching centres to make money”. However, banning students from appearing for NEET for the second time will crush the ambitions of several students, he pointed out and suggested a compromise formula of giving concession marks for first time candidates to render justice to the students. A decision on these lines should be taken after consultations, Ravindranath added.

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