Two of India’s most popular competitive exams, the JEE (Main) and NEET, will now be held twice a year, and will be conducted by the newly formed National Testing Agency (NTA), HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar announced on Saturday. The NTA will also conduct the National Eligibility Test (NET). All these tests were earlier organised by the CBSE.
 
The Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) (Main), for undergraduate admission into various engineering colleges, will be held in January and April. The National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET), for admission into medical and dental courses, will be held in February and May. At present, both these tests are held only once a year.
 
The NET, to determine eligibility for post of assistant professor or award of junior research fellowship, will be held in December.
 
In another significant change, these exams will be held over many days, and students will have the option to choose a date. Moreover, if a student appears for the JEE (Main) and NEET both times, the best of his/ her two scores will be taken into account.
 
“The main feature is that students will not lose one year because there will be two examinations before admission. He/ she can appear in either of the two, or both. The best score will be taken into account for the result,” Javadekar later tweeted.In a statement, the government said the move was meant to give students more choice and reduce stress due to “single exam conducted on one single day in the year.”
 
“This will give more chances to students, thereby giving adequate opportunity to bring out his/ her best,” it said.
 
All the tests will be computer-based, and practice modules will be made available on the NTA website. For instance, the modules for next year’s exams will be out by August. “Students can practice, if need be, in the nearby engineering colleges, CBSE/ KV schools etc,” said Javadekar.
 
The NTA has been mandated to engage experts in relevant fields to create a robust examination system, he said. It will create a network of test centres, and students will be able to use them free of charge.
 
“The exams will be more secure and at par with international norms. There will be no issues of leakage and it would be more student-friendly, open, scientific,” he said, adding that the syllabus, question format, language and fees for the exams would remain unchanged.
 
The Union Cabinet approved the setting up of the NTA in November 2017 as an autonomous body to conduct examinations for entrance to higher educational institutions. Apart from these three exams, the NTA will also conduct the Common Management Admission Test (CMAT) and Graduate Pharmacy Aptitude Test (GPAT). However, the IITs will continue to conduct the JEE (Advanced) exam.
 
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) currently conducts NEET, on behalf of the Medical Council of India and the Health Ministry, and NET on behalf of the University Grants Commission (UGC).
 
In 2017, around 11 lakh students appeared for the JEE (Main) for engineering seats in various colleges including 23 IITs, 31 NITs and 20 government-funded technical institutes. An almost similar number appeared for the NEET exam.
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