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From Hope to Despair: NEET-UG 2024 Exam Results Leave Students Disheartened, Mentally Harassed

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Devanshi Batra, TwoCircles.net

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on June 21 once more refused to halt National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (Undergraduate) or NEET-UG 2024 counselling amidst a significant controversy surrounding alleged irregularities in conducting the medical entrance examination. The apex court has instead issued a notice to the National Testing Agency (NTA).

It stayed proceedings related to paper-leak allegations in the Rajasthan, Calcutta and Bombay high courts, following an NTA plea to transfer these cases to the top court. The apex court has consolidated the new petitions with existing ones and scheduled them for a hearing on July 8.

NEET 2024 Controversy at a Glance

After the NEET-UG 2024 results were announced on June 4, various discrepancies and controversies surfaced. Allegations included cheating, paper leaks, score irregularities and mismanagement at examination centers. These issues sparked significant public outcry and legal actions in seven high courts, particularly concerning the awarding of grace marks to more than 1,500 candidates.

The NEET-UG 2024 exam took place on May 5 across 571 cities, with participation of around 24 lakh candidates. Reports indicated that the Bihar Police arrested a gang involved in leaking the question paper before the examination.

Despite allegations of leaks in Patna and other northern states, the NTA issued a press release denying any compromise in the exam’s integrity. Multiple first information reports (FIRs) and public interest litigations (PILs) were filed against alleged irregularities and malpractices.

Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan addressed a press conference recently, stating, “Regarding the NEET exam, we are coordinating with the Bihar government. The police are investigating, and they will submit a detailed report.”

He further emphasized, “We are committed to conducting error-free exams. A high-level committee is being established to enhance the functioning of the NTA.”

‘System Failed Students’

Initially slated for June 14, the NEET-UG 2024 results were unexpectedly released on June 4, coinciding with Lok Sabha results. In a first, 67 candidates secured Rank 1 with identical scores, some having taken the examination at the same center.

Alakh Pandey, owner of Physics Wallah and petitioner in a PIL, commented, “Scoring 640-650 in NEET used to secure ranks around 10,000 last year, but now students with these marks are getting ranks of 30,000-40,000. The system has failed the students. They no longer have faith in the NTA.”

This year’s examination has caused significant stress, confusion and frustration among students and parents alike.

The top court has also noted compromises in the examination’s sanctity. Students and parents are advocating for the cancellation of NEET-UG 2024 and a re-exam to ensure fairness and integrity in the admission process.

Ankit, a NEET aspirant from Patna, scored 692 marks. He insists that the NTA must address and investigate instances of paper leaks and other irregularities, demanding either the cancellation of NEET 2024 or a re-exam opportunity for all students.

“A re-examination should be conducted for all students, not just for 1,563. The NTA needs to acknowledge and investigate paper leaks and other irregularities. Students’ trust in the examination process is waning and needs restoration. Justice for NEET students is paramount,” he emphasized.

Perfect Scores, Paper Leak and Grace Marks

The NEET-UG 2024 results have sparked controversy due to several highlighted discrepancies pointed out by students and critics. Firstly, the unprecedented occurrence of 67 students achieving a perfect score of 720 marks has raised suspicions about the fairness of the scoring process. Critics argue that this statistical anomaly casts doubt on the integrity of the examination’s evaluation.

Additionally, allegations have surfaced regarding some students supposedly scoring 718 and 719 marks, figures that deviate from the standard NEET marking scheme of +4 for correct answers and -1 for incorrect ones.

Last week, the NTA acknowledged that 1,563 candidates were awarded grace marks due to reported “loss of time” during the examination. However, the exact amount of grace marks awarded remains unspecified.

Students from various exam centers in Bahadurgarh (Haryana), Delhi and Chhattisgarh reported inadequate exam durations, further adding to the controversy.

Harsh Dubey, a NEET aspirant from Uttar Pradesh, scored 627 marks but was dismayed to find himself ranked around 50,000, much lower than anticipated.

“A total of 1,563 students receiving grace marks led to significant rank inflation. This issue goes beyond just grace marks; it reflects NTA’s mishandling of the entire process, including allegations of paper leaks,” he remarked.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court intervened, annulling the NEET UG 2024 results for the 1,563 candidates who received grace marks. As a result, a re-test for these students is scheduled for June 23. Those opting out of the re-exam will have their NEET-UG results based on the initial exam held on May 5.

However, discontent persists among students who advocate for a re-test for all candidates affected by the controversy.

Vikas, another NEET aspirant from Delhi, echoed similar sentiments after securing a rank of 49,550.

“NTA’s rank inflation is scandalous. Instead of grace marks, they should have addressed the issue by providing additional time. This manipulation needs to be exposed,” he asserted.

Furthermore, scrutiny has fallen on the timing of result announcements and the clustering of top-performing candidates from the same exam center, raising concerns about examination center management and equal conditions for all test-takers.

Persistent allegations of NEET question paper leaks have further complicated matters, undermining confidence in the examination’s administration and security.

“With numerous scandals, internal manipulations and allegations of paper leaks, the integrity of our education system is in question. What measures is the NTA taking to address these issues?” Vikas questioned.

“This year’s results have undermined the efforts of deserving candidates, jeopardizing the future of medical aspirants and, consequently, the nation’s healthcare sector,” Ankit concluded.

The Toll on Mental Well-Being

Surendar Kumar’s daughter, who took the NEET examination this year and achieved a score of 680 marks, is now struggling to secure admission to a good college.

“We feel helpless after witnessing her dedication to preparing for this examination day and night. The NTA needs to take action; we are losing our children,” he expressed.

Reflecting on the situation, his daughter remarked, “First NEET and now UGC-NET, the revelations of paper leaks are shattering our hopes and dreams. With such high competition for limited seats, these leaks make it feel like an unfair market. I am starting to lose hope.”

Despite achieving high scores, many NEET aspirants find themselves unable to secure admission to reputable medical colleges due to significant discrepancies in the examination process. The lack of transparency and fairness in the system has left these deserving candidates disheartened and questioning the integrity of the examination authorities.

“This is not just about 2.5 million students; it is about 2.5 million families, all under immense stress. I have been preparing for four years and spent a substantial amount on this examination. I aimed for a decent college. What did I get in return? A scam?” said Vikas Dubey.

The ongoing controversies have not only cast doubts on the integrity of the testing process but have also significantly impacted the mental health of students across the country. Aspirants who invested years of preparation and substantial resources into the examination find themselves disillusioned and distressed by unexpected rank placements and allegations of irregularities.

“Repeated attempts cause immense stress and anxiety as we study the same material over and over. When a student finally secured good marks but still can’t get into a medical college, it reflects the state of our country’s education system. Even with good scores, we are not getting admission — who is responsible for this?” questioned the medical aspirant, who took the NEET examination for the fourth time this year.

“Once you take the NEET examination, there is immense pressure to succeed. Changing fields is not an option at that point. The NTA is playing with our futures, and this is no joke,” said the frustrated man.

“I come from a middle-class family, and my parents did not want me to pursue medicine due to the high costs. I arranged books and studied for 20 hours in the library. All this effort — for what?” he lamented.

Students express frustration over the lack of clarity and fairness in the system, which adds to their stress. This mounting pressure not only affects their academic pursuits but also takes a toll on their overall well-being. They also express concern over declining self-esteem and mental fatigue.

Sushil Kumar, one of the 24 lakh students who applied for the NEET examination this year, expressed similar concerns.

“This situation has taken a severe toll on our mental well-being. We are starting to doubt our hard work, and our self-esteem has plummeted. It is hard to believe that so many students could have topped,” he said.

“We are confused and uncertain about what to do next. No one seems to care about the mental health of students — the anxiety and tension are overwhelming,” he added.

Students feel a sense of precariousness and uncertainty about their futures. For many, the discrepancy between expected and actual results has triggered feelings of anxiety, self-doubt and hopelessness. The uncertainty surrounding retests, allegations of paper leaks and the competitive nature of medical admissions have exacerbated these concerns.

Mahendar Pratap, a committed NEET aspirant with a score of over 650, expressed, “Our future, our dreams and our parents’ aspirations hang by a thread. The lack of clarity leaves us in a state of stress and uncertainty until the next hearing, and I do not know how long this will continue.”

He also raised concerns about the fairness of a potential retest, questioning, “Will the NTA ensure the same level of difficulty in the retest? Using a different question paper could potentially disadvantage both those retaking the examination and those not.”