Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar announced on Saturday, July 7th, that the National Eligibility cum Entrance Examination (NEET) and Joint Entrance Examination (Main) or JEE (Main) will be conducted twice a year, instead of just once, as is done currently. The minister also said that these examinations and National Eligibility Test (NET) will be conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) instead of the CBSE.

The JEE (Main) examination will be conducted in January and April while the NEET exam will be held in February and May. Meanwhile, the NET exam will be conducted in the month of December. The syllabus and other procedures for these examinations will remain the same.

Candidates have the option of sitting for both the NEET and JEE exams, and their best score will be taken into account for admission. The exams will be spread across multiple dates rather than being held on a single day and will be conducted in online mode.

Addressing a press conference, the minister said, “National Testing Agency was approved by the Union Cabinet in November 2017 as an autonomous and self-sustained premier testing organization to conduct entrance examinations for higher educational Institutions.”

The NTA will establish practice centres in rural areas, which students can use free of charge to practice for the exams. The NTA will also conduct the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test Common Management Admission Test (CMAT) and Graduate Pharmacy Aptitude Test (GPAT).

On the rationale of conducting the examinations twice a year, Javadekar said that students will get more time to prepare for the examination and can better manage their stress levels. This will also give students a break between preparing for their 12th exams and competitive exams.

Political parties from the state of Tamil Nadu have issued statements criticising the move. The ruling party, AIADMK, stated that the old method of holding these competitive exams once a year should not be scrapped; the opposition party, DMK, stated that the new method will create confusion among students.