The National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test, i.e., NEET 2019 will be conducted by the National Testing Agency. One can expect manifold changes from following year in this largest entrance examination in the country for admission to medical, dental, and Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) courses in the country. Introduced by Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in the year 2016, NEET replaced All India Pre-Medical test/ Pre-Dental Entrance Test (AIPMT).

This state-supervised examination, NEET 2019 will no longer be conducted by Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) that was so far at the helm of the tests. Instead, power has been transferred to the newly formed National Testing Agency (NTA) which will organize the tests from now onwards. A host of changes are set to be incorporated in NEET by the new conducting body, NTA. NEET will no longer be conducted on a yearly basis. Instead, aspirants can appear for NEET twice a year. It is a golden opportunity for students who can appear twice for the same seat, once in February and the next time in May. The highest out of the two scores shall be considered for the purpose of admission. This momentous reform is expected to draw a huge number of applicants, with more than 13 lakh candidates expected to apply either for one or both the sessions of NEET.

The NTA has not officially announced any change of syllabus, fees, eligibility or language till now. However, it is known that NEET 2019 will utilize IT software and encryption that is highly secured. Also, the manner of the tests will be highly scientific, upon which psychometricians and subject matter experts have been working together.

HRD Prakash Javadekar announced on Thursday that from next year, the Centre would be demanding affidavits from state governments on the level of accuracy of translated NEET question papers. To avoid future issues, the state governments will have to vouch for the precision of the question papers prior to the test, guaranteeing that the translations made by their language experts is exact.

There have recently been allegations against CBSE that NEET question paper (conducted on May 6, 2018) in Tamil was inaccurately translated. A public interest litigation (PIL) filed by CPM MP, T K Rangarajan, demanded grace marks for Tamil medium students for the translation errors. The court has awarded 196 grace marks to the affected students owing to mistranslation. During the Zero Hour in Rajya Sabha, the issue was brought up by All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) member Vijila Sathyananth. Responding to this concern, Prakash Javadekar remarked that he would refrain from making too many comments on the issue because the matter was in court. However, he maintained that the translators were provided by the Tamil Nadu government.

Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on Friday said in its defence that subject experts in various regional languages were given the responsibility to translate the original question paper from English. A huge chunk of the question paper, as many as 49 questions, i.e., almost one-third of the question paper, suffered from mistranslation or ambiguity. CBSE defended itself by saying that its only responsibility is conducting the exam and declaring the results.

The AIADMK member also drew attention to the fact that students from Tamil Nadu appearing for the NEET exam this year had to travel to distant places – even to Rajasthan and Sikkim – to write their exam. Javadekar’s response to this complaint has been that he has already ordered that there would be no displacement of students from next year. Students will be able to write their exam in their own districts from 2019. A day before the exam was conducted, the government’s explanation on this matter had been that that the students had been given centres outside the state because of the “remarkable rise” in the number of candidates in Tamil Nadu. Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said the Union Minister has given his word to the House that aspirants will not have to go to other states and will have facility to write their exams in their respective places.