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Is NEET the neat solution?

Chennai: The word NEET has been creating a buzz over all kinds of media in the past few days. The various opinions on this National Eligibility cum Entrance Test are the focus of this article.

A medical student when asked about NEET said, “Standardisation of the entrance exam for the whole country is a welcome sign. It would increase the transparency of entry into medical colleges, give better quality to the course and all. But there needs to be a standardization of syllabus also across the country. A rural student who learnt his subject in his own language cannot compete with a student who had the means to study at a better school and also has the strategies to crack the entrance test.

“Medicine has to be taken up by people with passion and interest, not by people who know the strategy and have the means to crack an entrance exam. So, standardisation of syllabus is a must before any such radical decisions are made. Better ways of entry could be thought of too.”

A resident doctor was of the opinion that “so far most students prepare at least for two medical entrance tests — one at the state level and another at the national level. Some may prepare for more. That way even if you don’t do well in one, you can still hope to do well for another. But now with single NEET if you don’t do well in this, your whole year will go waste.”

Some of the supporters of NEET say it will help improve quality of students entering the medical colleges and bring about some uniformity.

Others feel that there is nothing similar in any other professional fields like engineering, management and law etc. All these have various entrance tests, at the national level and regional levels. So, why single out Medicine?

Dr Devi Shetty’s article ‘The NEET Solution: By endorsing NEET, Supreme Court comes to the aid of aspiring medical students’ published in The Times of India last week enlists various points as to why NEET is the neat solution.

A parent from Tamil Nadu, while commenting on NEET, said, “When it comes to Tamil Nadu, it has no state medical entrance for MBBS. The students are taken in based on their aggregate calculated from Physics, Chemistry and Biology of their 12th Standard Board Examination. Here, students are enrolled in certain schools, which provide ‘coaching’ to score maximum aggregate to join medicine. Generally in these schools, 11th Standard syllabus is not covered. Even 12th Standard syllabus is not taught, it’s being impregnated into their memory in the form of words — because only the marks matter, not their understanding. And marks do not necessarily come from their understanding, they just need to memorize every line of the book and reproduce it. That’s how questions are framed. For students trained in such a way, a sudden entrance test called NEET is more than just a shocking news. Just wondering about what mistake these students made. This was the way to get into their desired profession in Tamil Nadu and hence they had to. Now, all of a sudden this cannot be undone. Though the government has put the NEET on hold for this year, students still have to appear for getting enrolled in private medical colleges. And the next batch of students will suffer the same situation.

“NEET is the best solution to get quality doctors, but things have to be changed from the foundation upwards not the other way round. The syllabus and the methodology of teaching has to be standardized throughout the country, it should be ensured that the rural students and the students from cities get the same kind of education and only after that exams like NEET can be successful in their mission.”

by Usha Nandini

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