A month after the Union government deferred all competitive tests scheduled in April, May and June due to the Covid-19 lockdown, the HRD Ministry Tuesday made the first major announcement to bring higher education back on track.
The JEE Main, the gateway exam for admission to the NITs, will be held over five days between July 18 and July 23. The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) for undergraduate medical programmes will be held on July 26. Originally, JEE Main was scheduled to be held between April 7 and April 11, and NEET on May 3.
Asked why the ministry decided to push the two entrance tests to July, a senior officer told The Indian Express, “The thinking (behind this schedule) is that there will be no restrictions on the use of public transportation by then and candidates will be able to reach test centres easily.”
As many as 9 lakh candidates have registered to take JEE Main and approximately 16 lakh for NEET. According to sources in the National Testing Agency (NTA), JEE (Main) results will be announced July-end and NEET results are expected August-end.
The fresh dates, announced by HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal in a webinar with students on Tuesday, indicate that the nationwide lockdown has upset the entrance exam calendar by almost three months. This could mean that many higher education institutions may only be able to start classes for first-year students by September-end or first week of October. The indicative calendar issued by the University Grants Commission (UGC) last week had proposed the new academic calendar for the fresh batch to commence in the first week of September.
With JEE Main scheduled mid-July, JEE Advanced, Pokhriyal said, would be held in August. IIT-Delhi, which is organising JEE Advanced this year, will decide fresh dates based on when NTA announces JEE Main results. Candidates aspiring to appear for JEE Advanced have to first qualify JEE Main.
“We usually need two to three weeks from the date of the JEE Main results to conduct JEE Advanced. After the Advanced exam, the results usually take two weeks and then we need almost a month to complete the counselling process,” said JEE Chairman Sidharth Pandey.
JEE Advanced is likely to be held on August 23. Pandey acknowledged that the new session for first-year students at IIT-Delhi could start later than what was initially planned, that is September 7.
Video | JEE Main exam from July 18-23, NEET exam on July 26: HRD Minister
Similarly, according to NTA sources, the new academic year for new students across medical colleges is expected to begin in October. “If results are announced August-end, then the counselling process will take a month. That will push the new year to October,” said an NTA officer on the condition of anonymity.
The IIT Counselling process also hinges on when CBSE and respective state boards announce results for the class 12 board exams. To seek admission to one of the IITs, aspirants who have cleared JEE Advanced should have also secured at least 75 per cent marks in their board exams or they should be in the top 20 percentile of their respective board results. Pokhriyal said Tuesday that CBSE’s latest schedule will be announced later this week.