On June 4, as India focused on the Lok Sabha election results, the National Testing Agency (NTA) announced the results of the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test, Undergraduate (NEET-UG). This examination, critical for admission to medical, dental, and AYUSH courses, drew attention due to an unusually high number of perfect scores and several controversies. 

The Case of 67 Toppers

The NEET UG 2024 results revealed that 67 candidates achieved a perfect score of 720/720, a significant increase from previous years. In comparison, there were only two toppers in 2023 and one each in the years 2022, 2021, 2020, and 2019. This sudden spike raised eyebrows and led to widespread scrutiny.

A report by The Indian Express highlighted that 44 of these 67 toppers had incorrectly answered a basic physics question but were still awarded grace marks. The discrepancy arose from a mistake in an older version of the NCERT’s Class 12 textbook.

NTA’s provisional answer key released on May 29 aligned with the correct answer, but over 13,000 candidates challenged it, citing textbook errors. An NTA official explained that candidates were not penalized since the agency recommends studying from NCERT textbooks for NEET preparation.

In its press release, NTA mentioned that the larger pool of candidates this year, nearly 3 lakh more than in 2023, naturally led to an increase in high scorers. Additionally, the 2024 NEET was reportedly easier compared to previous years.

The controversy further deepened with the appearance of scores like 718 and 719, which many claimed were impossible under the exam’s scoring scheme. NTA clarified that these anomalies resulted from compensatory marks awarded to some candidates due to loss of examination time.

Students from several centres in Bahadurgarh (Haryana), Delhi, and Chhattisgarh experienced disruptions that shortened their allotted exam time. Writ petitions were filed in the High Courts of Punjab & Haryana, Delhi, and Chhattisgarh. A “Grievance Redressal Committee,” comprising experts from examination and academia fields, reviewed these cases based on factual reports and CCTV footage from the concerned centres.

The committee’s findings led to compensatory marks being awarded to 1,563 candidates, with revised scores ranging from -20 to 720. Among these, two candidates ended up with scores of 718 and 719, as confirmed by the NTA press release.

Allegations of Paper Leak and Wrong Papers

Accusations of a paper leak in Patna added to the controversies. The Economic Offences Unit of Bihar Police seized admit cards, post-dated cheques, and certificates from individuals linked to an organized gang allegedly involved in the leak.

However, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) found insufficient evidence to confirm a leak, despite an ongoing thorough investigation. NTA categorically denied any paper leak incidents, although it acknowledged cases of impersonation and pledged support to the investigating authorities.

Another issue arose in Sawai Madhopur (Rajasthan), where Hindi-medium students mistakenly received English-medium question papers. These students walked out, taking the papers with them, which were later posted online around 4 PM, by which time the exam was already underway in other centres.

Read more: Watch: 5 Problems With The CUET Exam

Early Declaration of Results

The results were published on June 4, ten days earlier than the scheduled date of June 14, prompting concerns about the hasty announcement. NTA defended the early declaration, stating that results are released promptly after completing necessary checks post the answer key challenge period.

The agency highlighted that it had declared the results of about 23 lakh candidates within 30 days and referenced its efficiency in announcing the JEE (Main) 2024 results in similar timeframes.

Question of High Cutoffs

The unusually high cutoff marks for NEET UG 2024 also raised questions. NTA attributed this to the increased number of candidates and higher overall performance standards. The cutoff scores are based on the collective performance of candidates each year.

For instance, in 2022, the average mark out of 720 for qualified candidates was 259, with a cutoff of 117 for the unreserved category. In contrast, 2024 saw an average of 323.55 marks and a cutoff of 164.

NTA provided data showing that a record 23.81 lakh students registered for NEET UG this year, significantly higher than the 20.87 lakh in 2023. This increase likely contributed to the higher cutoff marks observed.

The NEET UG 2024 results have sparked multiple controversies, from an unprecedented number of perfect scores to allegations of paper leaks and scoring irregularities. NTA has issued clarifications addressing these issues, attributing them to factors such as exam disruptions, compensatory marks, and a larger pool of candidates. 

Despite these explanations, the controversies have led to petitions in various courts, and the situation continues to evolve as investigations proceed. The integrity of the examination process remains under scrutiny, highlighting the challenges in administering such a large-scale competitive exam.

Image Credits: Google Images

Feature image designed by Saudamini Seth

Sources: Indian Express, Live MintMoney Control

Find the blogger: Katyayani Joshi

This post is tagged under: neet 2024, neet result, neet result 2024, neet nta, neet scam, neet scam 2024, neet result scam, neet 2024 result scam, neet exam scam, neet 2024 scam, neet, examination, NEET UG, NTA, higher cut off, Special Investigation Team, Supreme Court, Grievance Redressal Committee, provisional answer key, NCERT textbooks, fraud

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