NEET UG: Haryana candidates given extra time say it didn’t benefit them due to test format

Candidates at Vijaya Senior Secondary School in Bahadurgarh, Haryana, had to return their question paper and were given a second question paper, half an hour after the exam began. They were not told they would be getting extra time until the end of regular time.
NEET UG: Haryana candidates given extra time say it didn’t benefit them due to test format
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Candidates who appeared for the NEET UG exam in Haryana’s Bahadurgarh have alleged that two different sets of question papers were distributed during the exam. Those who didn’t receive extra time to complete their paper from Bahadurgarh’s centres in Haryana have now been offered the chance to appear for a retest by the National Testing Agency (NTA). But around 400 to 500 medical aspirants from a centre in Bahadurgarh, who were offered extra time, couldn’t make use of it due to the format of the test, they alleged. And despite their representation to NTA, they have not been allowed to take a re-test.

Candidates who wrote the exam at Vijaya Senior Secondary School in Bahadurgarh, Haryana, were allegedly provided with question papers from the Q,R,S,T code at 2 pm when the exam began. However, around 2.30 pm, their answer sheets and question papers were taken back by the invigilators under the pretext of having distributed the wrong set and a different paper from the M,N,O,P code was distributed to all the candidates. It may be noted that for NEET UG 2024, question papers belonged to two different codes - Q,R,S,T and M,N,O,P.

Isha, who wrote the test at Vijaya Senior Secondary School, told TNM, “At the time of distributing the papers for the second time, the invigilators didn’t say anything about giving us extra time. So all of us started hurriedly giving the test. I finished attempting all the questions by 5:20 pm. But at 5:20 pm, the invigilators said we would get ten extra minutes. Since I had already filled in the OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) sheet, I couldn’t attempt it again. Then again at 5:30 pm, they announced that 10 extra minutes would be given and then again at 5:40 pm.”

It may be noted that under the pen and paper mode, candidates are provided with a sealed question paper and an OMR sheet each. For each question, they will have to shade the correct multiple choice answer on the OMR sheet. Once an answer is shaded, they cannot re-attempt the question. A new OMR sheet will also not be given to a student. Hence, many candidates who attempted the test from Vijaya Senior Secondary School were allegedly unable to make use of the extra time that was provided. 

After completing the test by 5:20 pm, Isha realised that she had wrongly answered 21 questions for which she had known the correct answers but couldn’t undo her mistakes. “If I had known I would have enough time to finish the paper, I would have properly paid attention to each question,” she added. 

Her parent, Vinod Kumar, told TNM, “They are under immense pressure while writing an exam like NEET. If they change the paper in between, imagine how confusing and nervous the students would have been. We would understand if a new set was suddenly distributed in the middle of an exam because of, say, a paper leak. But in a centre where nothing of that sort had happened, why should the children suffer for no fault of theirs?” he asked.

In Bahadurgarh, the NEET UG exam was conducted for the first time this year. Three centres were identified for the same – Vijaya Senior Secondary School, Hardayal Public School and SR Century School. The Hardayal Public School also retracted the Q,R,S,T papers and M,N,O,P papers were distributed 30-40 minutes after the test began. However, the candidates were not given extra time and were forced to wind up by 5:20 pm. In the third school, however, Q,R,S,T code papers were attempted by the candidates without interruptions. 

Representations to no avail

Aspirants who wrote their tests in both Vijaya Senior Secondary School and Hardayal Public School had emailed the NTA after the test on May 5 regarding the discrepancies but to no avail. A writ petition was filed to this effect in the Delhi High Court (HC) in May, and a representation for a re-test was also filed with the NTA. The court on May 27, ordered the NTA to take a call on the representation within ten days and communicate their decision to the petitioners. Although the ten days’ time was to end on June 5, the results were announced by the NTA on June 4. 

The candidates who were not given extra time in Hardayal Public School were among the 1,563 candidates who had initially been awarded grace marks which were later scrapped and will now take the retest. The counsel who appeared on behalf of the candidates in Haryana’s Bahadurgarh, Jatinder Singh, told TNM, “There has been no response from the NTA regarding Vijaya Senior Secondary School students as of June 14 despite having filed a reminder.”

A parent whose child had appeared for NEET at Vijaya Senior Secondary School said, “It is good that candidates who wrote the test at Hardayal Public School are getting a chance to retake the exam, but my child and hundreds of other children who couldn’t make use of the extra time from Vijaya School centre because of not having received proper communication, don’t have any option but to wait and see if their rank improves.” 

Vinod Kumar noted that NEET UG candidates from Bahadurgarh who wrote the exam at Vijaya School have already started preparing for next year’s NEET. “Many of them have re-started their coaching in Rajasthan,” he added.

Speaking to TNM regarding the inconsistencies around the conduct of the test, Maheshwer Peri, Founder and CEO of Careers360, said, “The issue goes beyond just 1,563 candidates. It is about the integrity and sanctity of the examination. In this case, both have been massively challenged because NTA has not been transparent.” He added that the problem had been limited to just those 1,563 candidates, but the number of aspirants affected was far beyond that.

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