Mumbai: After several pleas for postponement, the National Board of Examinations (NBE) finally conducted the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test Postgraduate (NEET PG) 2023 as scheduled on Sunday, March 5, from 9 am to 12:30 pm. Candidates expect high counseling cutoffs this year after the exam because they found the NEET PG paper to be moderately easy. Many students also observed that the same question was asked multiple times with different syntax.
“The questions in this year’s NEET PG were easy, it was the multiple options that were confusing. The paper largely followed the typical format of 200 questions and several questions resembled the ones that have been asked in the past,” said Dr. Lakhan Prakash Gupta from Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh.
As one of the students who demanded a postponement, Lakhan believed that if he had a few more days to prepare after finishing his internship, he could have excelled at the paper. “On average, I spend anywhere between 12-15 hours at my internship every day. This routine left me with very little time to prepare for NEET and a postponement would have certainly helped us all. The entire process of preparation was shaky since we were hoping for an extension of dates,” said Lakhan, who will finish his internship with Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College only in mid-April.
Seeing their schedules wound up around internships, a plea to postpone the national medical entrance exam was even made to the Supreme Court where a bench of Justices S R Bhat and Dipankar Datta refused to entertain petitions seeking a postponement, saying there is nothing in this world that would prevent somebody from trying again. Interning students admitted to having put themselves through a strenuous schedule to cope with the exam.
“I would spend at least ten hours at the hospital on non-emergency days. After dinner, I would sit with my books till at least 1 am and repeat the schedule over and over for months. The pressure took a toll on our health and habits. I stopped going to the gym to devote my full attention to NEET. There is no respite after exams too as I’ve used up my leaves during prep time,” said Dr. Ritika Raj, a medical intern in Bihar.
With their exam cities assigned far away, many even applied for leaves at their hospitals to travel to their exam centers a day prior to the exam. Such was the case with Dr. Prashant Kumar Singh, whose test center was 70 km away from Patna. “I was assigned to the surgery department, where working long hours is the norm. NEET PG is the type of exam that requires a thorough review of the syllabus prior to taking the test; on many days, I did not have the energy to revise after working long hours at the hospital. My parents would call me to ask about my preparation, which was certainly a motivator but it made me realise the weight of expectations too,” said Dr. Prashant, an intern at BMIMS Nalanda.
On Sunday, the NEET PG was held across 267 test cities for admission to 26,168 Doctor of Medicine (MD), 13,649 Master of Surgery (MS), and 922 PG Diploma seats. No major technical glitches were reported by the students while Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya also conducted reviews of certain NEET PG centres to ensure that the exam went off smoothly.
In a video surfacing on Twitter, Mandaviya was also seen assuring parents that the students will have to appear for the National Exit Test (NExT) in 2024, which is set to replace the NEET PG and Foreign Medical Graduate Examination (FMGE) in the coming year.
This year, the NEET PG exam results are expected to be announced online by March 31 in the format of a merit list. Only candidates who meet the minimum cut-off percentile for the test will be eligible to participate in the NEET PG 2023 counseling.
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