NEET – II Conducted on 24th July, 2016 – An analysis of the paper

The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test – II (NEET-II) was conducted on July 24thin accordance with the orders passed earlier in May 2016 by the Hon. Supreme Court. The firm stand adopted by the Hon. Supreme Court regarding the mandatory status of the NEET, the ordinance passed by the Union Government offering a partial leeway to some states, the Hon. Supreme Court passing strictures against the Ordinance – all went on to ensure that this examination generated great interest and heated debate.

Although the conduct of this examination was not spared from multiple incidents of alleged leakage of the question paper, by and large the examination has been successfully concluded. With nearly 5 lac students reportedly having appeared for the examination, there is now great anticipation regarding the announcement of the results, expected by 17th August 2016.

An analysis of the question paper for this examination reveals that it was largely along expected lines, although a few surprises did await students in the form of questions that were not based on the NCERT textbooks.

The 180 questions – 45 each on Physics and Chemistry, and 90 on Biology, were distributed almost equally between the syllabi for XIth and XII (ratio 9:11), underscoring the importance of regular studies from XIth itself, and not merely for XIIth.

In Physics, several questions were calculation oriented, involving elaborate steps and consequently required a long time to solve them. Many of the questions across all subjects were application oriented, requiring a candidate to possess an in-depth understanding of the concepts and their accurate application to a given situation, not merely a knowledge of the matter in the textbook.

In Biology, questions on Genetics and Biotechnology; Human Physiology; and Ecology were among the most numerous – around 40% of the questions can be attributed to just these three topics. Similarly, in Physics, questions related to Electricity and Magnetism, and Mechanics together account for almost 50% of the paper. Chemistry saw a fairly equal distribution among Physical, Inorganic and Organic sections of Chemistry – although there was a notably high sprinkling of moderate to difficult questions.

A comparison of this test with the AIPMT (now designated NEET-I) conducted earlier in May is inevitable, especially as an estimated 3.4 lac students opted to appear for the NEET-II by agreeing to forsake their claim to the NEET-I scores, in the hope of doing better.  The paper on the overall was of comparable degree of difficulty, and the extra 2 months of preparation time afforded to such candidates will certainly see most of them improving on their performance.

Candidates from the states of Tamil Nadu, West Bengal,Maharashtra, Gujarat, etc, were unprepared for the NEET, and will certainly not feel that 2 months of preparation time was adequate, especially given the differences in syllabi. However the Ordinance passed by the Union government has provided them with the option of securing most of the admissions available in these states through the local state-specific examinations.

A matter of intense curiosity among the student community is the expected minimum cut-off scores for admissions to the prestigious medical colleges. With admissions to around 15,000 total seats across the country being dependent on scores of this examination, it is generally expected that a score of at least 540 to 550 out of 720 will be essential for a candidate from the open category to secure an admission to a reputed medical college. Colleges such as Maulana Azad Medical College and Lady Hardinge Medical College in New Delhi, and similar government medical colleges in places such as Chandigarh, Lucknow, Patna, Gwalior, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru etc will see relatively higher cut-offs – at least 10% higher than those for other colleges.

In the years to come, as the primary eligibility examination for admissions to medical courses such as MBBS and BDS, the NEET will evolve as the most important event in the annual academic calendar of students aspiring to become doctors, just as the JEE is for aspiring engineers.