With the formation of the (NTA) National Testing Agency, many changes have been initiated for JEE Main and NEET. The changes have long been awaited as such examinations have come under scrutiny for their lack of variation, reliability and accessibility. The NTA in overtaking the process of examination has ensured that exams will now bear variation in difficulty levels with the use of specialised standardisation techniques while ascertaining the final scores. The implementation of the tests as Computer based tests, has sparked widespread controversy as many opine that they would not be fluent in the usage of computers. But it should be taken into account that in doing so it minimizes the practice of leakage and other malpractices as the NTA has announced that it would be utilizing secured IT software and encryption codes to make sure that no malpractices occur and the tests are delivered on time.
The question on everyone’s mind with these new changes are directed to those students of rural areas. How will they cope with these new changes? Are they equipped with the facilities? Regarding the questions, the NTA has made some positive steps to address these questions. The NTA has announced that it would establish a network of test practices especially for the rural areas and has also directed that downloadable mock test patterns are available for practice. Furthermore schools and colleges with access to computer facilities have been directed to remain open on Saturdays and Sundays so students can avail use of the computers at no charge whatsoever.
The schools and colleges will remain open from the 3rd week of August to allow students ample time to brush up on their skills and get familiarized with computer usage. Keeping in view that most students of rural areas might not be fluent in the usage of English, it has addressed the situation by assuring that tests will be available in multiple languages for students to choose from. All these steps show progression and an emphatic mindset of the NTA to ensure that all are given the same opportunity, which is huge milestone that has been overcome.
The JEE Mains will be conducted twice a year, in the month of January and April and NEET in the months February and May. The students are allowed to sit for both the exams and their best of the two scores will be taken into account. This change to conduct it twice has been a boon as now students can have more time for preparation and also eliminates the wastage of a whole year to appear the exam again as students can now appear it in the same year. This step would be highly helpful for the rural students as students can now use the first test as a practice and reappear the next test with confidence and clarity. The NTA has also declared that the test would be conducted in a span of 8 days for both the exams which means that students can choose the dates most suitable for them and not worry about missing the exam for any particular or personal reasons.
The NTA has made significant progress which should be applauded and praised in ensuring that such tests are of the highest standardised materials. But in saying so it cannot go without mentioning that despite all the steps taken to include the rural areas there still persist problems that have been overlooked. The first and foremost problem would be the irregularities in electricity in rural areas, which would hinder the test taking as without electricity no test could be undertaken. The second would be the fact that most rural areas lack computers that actually function or even if they function, they will be outdated and to take the test, it requires the correct software which won’t be supported by many systems.
The question now lies in what one does in such situations? Has the NTA really thought about these problems? Is the NTA prepared to handle these situations? Can the new changes really be considered a boon for the rural areas?