No neat solution to NEET, BSc or gap year part of study plan B

New Delhi: With the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) caught up in controversy, students seeking entrance to medical colleges are looking for alternative paths.

Some are planning a year off to prepare for the next round; others are considering foreign colleges or domestic Bachelor of Science (BSc) programmes. Most are waiting for more clarity on this year’s results, executives at coaching centres and study platforms told ET.

Adarsh Khandelwal, cofounder of Collegify, said the study abroad platform has received queries from hundreds who took the NEET this year. Most are enquiring about overseas options and allied fields. “A lot of students are now looking at new fields such as genetics, biomed, pharmacy. Some are even taking a gap year and preparing for the UK Clinical Aptitude Test entrance for medical schools in the following session,” he said. “Having a plan B is a must for all medicine aspirants preparing for NEET.”

Several students expect the test will be held again. “I am hoping there is a re-exam so I get a fair chance,” said a student in Bhagalpur, Bihar. “My family cannot afford to send me outside India.”

Meanwhile, those who can, are considering the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany and France, said experts. Students who study medicine overseas have to appear for a qualifying test before being able to practice in India, similar to the US Medical Licensing Examination requirement.

“NEET permits multiple attempts, leading to many students reappearing each year. The number of NEET takers is also increasing at 15-20% each year,” said Mahesh Bathla, chief financial officer at coaching institute Vidyamandir. High Scores No Guarantee
“The number of students reappearing will also increase… It should be 15-20%,” said Bathla of Vidyamandir.

Students with high scores are faced with the prospect of having to sit again next time, even if this year’s test results are upheld, said a spokesperson of edtech firm Physics Wallah.

“Securing 640 marks will not ensure a government MBBS seat this year. Students scoring as high as 700 marks out of 720 may not get their dream medical college,” the person said. “With over 1.3 million students qualifying, against only 109,095 MBBS seats, the competition is already fierce. This year, 60,000-70,000 students scored more than 640 marks, but may still not get a good college or a government one.”

A total of 550,000 students took coaching for NEET this year, from Physics Wallah. Its founder, Alakh Pandey, one of the first to raise questions about the NEET results, has filed a public interest litigation on the matter in the Supreme Court.

Adda247, a vernacular test prep platform backed by Google, Westbridge and InfoEdge, among others, had 150,000 students enrolled for NEET preparation. “The costs of studying abroad, and present uncertainties with NEET 2024 results, have definitely cast doubts in the minds of students,” said Anil Nagar, founder and chief executive, Adda247.

A few years ago, a score of 650 would have guaranteed admission to a college of choice, but this year, it might not even place the student in the top 25,000, said Vidyamandir’s Bathla. This will likely lead to an increase in students seeking to study medicine abroad, he said.

Once favourites of Indian medical aspirants, Russia and Ukraine have lost their charm due to the ongoing conflict, leaving limited options. About 2.4 million candidates appeared for NEET on May 5. According to the Medical Council of India and the ministry of health and family welfare, there are 55,880 MBBS seats available in 386 government medical colleges. Test scores were published on June 4.


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