Students who want to pursue post graduate medical education next year will have to qualify the NEET-PG examination and not the new National Exit Test (NExT) that has been in the works, according to a tentative schedule released by the National Board of Examination on Thursday. NEET-PG 2024 will take place on March 3, the schedule said.
This might come as a relief to many students who have been dreading the new format of the examination.
NExT will be a common examination for completing MBBS, grant of medical licences and entering PG courses as a way to ensure uniform quality of medical education across the country with a focus on practical training.
It will be conducted in two parts — the multiple choice part I will be conducted after MBBS course has been completed and the practical part II, after the students have completed their mandatory one-year internship.
While NExT is mandated under the National Medical Commission Act, the government deferred it “till further directions” earlier this year. However, there were indications from the health minister and the union health ministry that the examination may likely happen in 2024.
In fact, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences had also prepared to conduct a mock test to prepare students in the new format. Sources said the new format is likely to come into force only after the current general elections.
“There was a need to defer the new examination. This is because there are several issues that remain like, who will conduct the examination, what kinds of questions will they ask, what happens if someone doesn’t pass the second test, what happens if a person does not get a seat of their choice with their marks and would people be allowed to re-appear in the test,” said Dr Rohan Krishnan, chairman, Federation of All India Medical Association (FAIMA).
While the current format of examinations may continue, the NMC is looking at ways to streamline the counselling process and reduce seat vacancies. Over 1,400 post graduation medical seats remain vacant even after four rounds of PG counselling. The vacancy hasn’t gone down drastically even though the qualifying percentile has been reduced to zero for the current session.
There were 4,614 vacant PG seats in 2019-20 after counselling was completed, 1,425 in 2020-21, and 3,744 in 2021-22.