2 min read.Updated: 01 Apr 2020, 01:12 AM ISTSeethalakshmi S
With the postponement of major national entrance tests such as JEE and NEET due to the coronavirus pandemic, academic schedules of millions of students and institutions across the country have been thrown out of gear
For the past eight months, Priya Subramaniam has not gone out with her friends. She had virtually isolated herself to prepare for the Class 12 board exams in March. Among her few interactions with the outside world was when she attended coaching classes for admission to Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs).
The nationwide lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic has, however, thrown all her plans into disarray and left her deeply worried.
“The first jolt was when they announced that the Class 12 ISC exams were postponed indefinitely. Last week, JEE (joint entrance examination for IITs) was put off, and yesterday the state entrance exams. I’m not sure when I will get into college," she said.
With the postponement of major national entrance tests such as JEE and NEET due to the coronavirus pandemic, academic schedules of millions of students and institutions across the country have been thrown out of gear. About 1.5 million students appear every year for JEE, and 1.4 million for NEET.
Every year, school board exams finish by the end of March, and students get two weeks to prepare for professional course entrance exams in the second week of April.
Professors and colleges are now worried that the lockdown may be extended. “Assuming the entire Class 10 and 12 examination process resumes in the first week of May, it will take a minimum of two weeks to complete it. Then, we need a month to evaluate answer scripts and declare results. By then, we’ll be in the second week of June," said the vice-chancellor of a deemed university.
Usually, the national entrance tests, interviews and the admission process take about 90 days.
“It is likely to be September by the time we start classes for 2020-21. We would have lost nearly three months of classroom teaching for students due to the disruption," he added.
Prof. S. Sadagopan, director at IIIT-Bangalore and former professor at IIT-Kanpur and IIT Madras, described this as a setback for the current batch of students. “From last year, students were allowed to take the JEE mains twice before appearing for the JEE Advanced. This year, we will have to tighten the entire admission process. But there is no need to worry; this situation is unprecedented for all of us, and we will tide over it," said Sadagopan.
The academic community said that the silver lining is that a single agency, the National Testing Agency or NTA, now conducts both JEE and NEET, the country’s main national entrance tests for engineering and medical courses. The NTA has extended the last date for online applications for various examinations due to the disruption. “Multiple agencies holding entrance tests, as was the practice before, would have been more chaotic. The academic session for postgraduate medical courses commences in May, while the undergraduate session begins in August. This year, with entrance tests being delayed, there will be disruption, but in my view, it is okay for us to lose three months of a course than to lose young people to the virus," said Dr S. Kumar, chancellor at Sri Devaraj Urs Academy of Higher Education and Research, Kolar.
“The entire academic community and students have to work very hard this year and compromise on breaks. There is no other way. We appeal to students not to get disheartened," said Sadagopan.