Mint Primer | NEET-UG fiasco: How to avoid trouble, going ahead

Students hold placards as they stage a protest against the re-examination of the NEET-UG exams. (File Photo: ANI)
Students hold placards as they stage a protest against the re-examination of the NEET-UG exams. (File Photo: ANI)


  • Alleged irregularities in India's crucial medical entrance exam have sparked widespread controversy, leading to court hearings and government actions. Can the integrity of the NEET-UG be restored, and what measures are necessary to prevent future breaches? Read on to find out.

On 8 July, a Supreme Court bench will hear around 24 petitions challenging alleged irregularities in the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET-UG), an exam crucial for admission into undergraduate medical programmes. The verdict could affect approximately 2.4 million students. Mint takes detailed look at the situation:

What went wrong with the tests?

The NEET-UG, assessing students on physics, biology, and chemistry, was held on 5 May across 4,750 centres in 571 Indian cities and 14 international locations. Allegations from students, coaching centres, teachers, and parents include paper leaks, exam delays at certain centres, unwarranted grace marks, and unusually high scores—67 students achieved the maximum score of 720, the highest possible. There is a growing demand for the tests to be scrapped and a retest conducted, a move the Indian government has thus far resisted.

Read this | NEET fiasco: Meet the heroes behind the massive protests


What cases will the Supreme Court hear?

The Supreme Court will hear around 24 petitions calling for a fresh examination due to alleged paper leaks and discrepancies in optical mark recognition (OMR) sheets. Some petitions have sought an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) into the examination process. Additionally, there are calls for an independent committee to probe the irregularities. Notable petitioners include Alakh Pandey, founder of the edtech firm Physics Wallah, and student groups like The Students Islamic Organization of India.

How has the government reacted so far?

In response to the controversy, the government has annulled grace marks awarded to 1,563 students and conducted a retest for them. A committee has been established to enhance the structure, processes, data management, and security protocols of the National Testing Agency (NTA), which oversees the exam. NTA director Subodh Kumar Singh has been removed from his post. Furthermore, the Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2024, aimed at preventing unfair practices in public examinations, has been notified.

More here: There are no neat solutions to the country’s NEET fiasco


How vulnerable are India’s entrance tests to leaks?

Cybersecurity experts warn that breaches can occur at any stage—from the preparation and printing of question papers to their distribution to exam centres. Such breaches can lead to extortion attempts or exam delays. In June, the government cancelled the University Grants Commission–National Eligibility Test (UGC-NET) after question papers surfaced on the darknet. The UGC-NET determines eligibility for assistant professor positions and junior research fellowships in Indian universities.

What lessons can be drawn from the fiasco?

Education experts advocate for greater transparency in awarding grace marks for exam delays and call for tighter control over the entire supply chain of test materials, from printing to distribution. They also stress the need for better training of invigilators to detect malpractice at exam centres. The NTA is expected to collaborate more closely with the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team to monitor the darknet and counter sophisticated hacking attempts.

Also read: Private medical colleges may see an influx of students after NEET controversy     

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