This year, 12 lakh youngsters sat for the annual JEE Main for admission to engineering institutions. Predictably, many could not make the grade, while others would have wanted to improve their scores, but their next opportunity would have come only a year later. This will no longer be the case, with the government announcing on Saturday that from 2019, aspirants will be able to sit twice a year for not only JEE Main, but also NEET for entry into medical colleges.
Examinees will be able to appear for JEE Main in January and April of every year and for NEET in February and May for the academic sessions beginning in August of that year. This will allow an examinee to choose either of the months to attempt the engineering or medical entrance test, or to repeat the test if the first score doesn't prove satisfactory.
The exams will be conducted by the newly formed National Testing Agency (NTA), which will take care of the variation in difficulty levels in the two tests in each course through the use of specialised standardisation techniques while determining the final scores.
Exams and tentative schedule
The computer-based tests will be conducted by NTA and not the Central Board of Secondary Education and other agencies like the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) as at present. "All entrance exams which were conducted by CBSE, such as UGC-NET, JEE Main and NEET, will now be conducted by NTA," Union human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar said on Saturday.
NTA will begin with the University Grants Commission's National Eligibility Test (UGC-NET) for college and university teachers, requiring a post graduate degree, from December 2018. From 2019, NTA will also conduct the Graduate Pharmacy Aptitude Test (GPAT) and Common Management Admission Test (CMAT) both conducted by AICTE so far.
With JEE Main and NEET being conducted twice for a single admission process, there will be a need to standardise the scores from the two sittings, say of January and April 2019 for JEE admissions of August 2019. "We will ensure that the difficulty levels are same across papers," said a senior HRD official. However, the tests will be equated nevertheless using psychometric methods, standardisation techniques and the best of the equated scores will be used for admissions in case of variation in difficulty levels.
From August this year, NTA will start providing experience of computer-based tests through dedicated centres and test downloads free of cost to acclimatise candidates to the new system. The HRD ministry assured that the syllabus would remain the same and there would be no increase in cost of application while the exams will be more transparent and leak proof.
NTA will soon provide a list of computer centres. Some of these will double up as practice centres free of cost for students who don't have personal computers. Javadekar said that this will ensure exams are leak-proof, of international standards and are much more convenient for candidates as they will be computer-based and allow faster declaration of results.