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'67 Toppers In NEET Are Impossible'

June 20, 2024 08:59 IST
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'In the history of India this kind of scores and ranks has never happened in exams.'

IMAGE: Students in Bhopal, June 14, 2024, protest against the alleged irregularities in the conduct of NEET. Photograph: ANI Photo

The NEET question paper leak issue refuses to die down, as students continue to protest, with even the Supreme Court of India stating that the government must 'probe' negligence of even 0.001 percent in the high-profile examination.

The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) is the qualifying exam for MBBS and BDS courses in India.

The exams are conducted all over India by the National Testing Agency and this year 2.4 million students appeared for NEET.

The exams were conducted on May 5, 2024, at 4,750 centres across 571 cities and small towns of India.

However, the examination process came under a cloud after paper leaks were reported from two NEET centres -- at Godhra in Gujarat and Patna in Bihar.

Doubts were again raised after 67 students topped NEET 2024 with All India Rank No. 1.

The toppers list usually does not consist more than one or two toppers every year but this year 67 students topped the list, which was unparalleled.

All the 67 toppers (external link) scored 720 marks and 99.9971285 percentile.

What surprised many was that six toppers came from the Hardayal Public school in Bahadurgarh, Haryana, a NEET examination centre.

On further inquiry it was found out that these six students had got grace marks and were in the AIR list of 67 students.

The Supreme Court of India then told these students to give a re-examination on June 23 with other 1,557 students who got grace marks like them.

Syed Firdaus Ashraf/ spoke to Maheshwer Peri, founder and chairman, Careers360, to know more about the issue.

A report in the Indian Express states that at the Patna and Godhra centres where papers were leaked, the students who are under a scanner did not score more than 500 marks. And to get a seat in a government medical college under the all-India quota, a score of 650 plus out of 720 is considered the norm.

I have not read the report but whenever there is a paper leak it is obvious that it is for a purpose. I don't know how the Indian Express got the data of those particular centres and marks from those centres. And you then have 7-8 students from the same exam centre (external link) getting the top rank (in Jhajjar, Haryana).

The entire issue of paper leak is not about these two centres that are caught but many other centres that were not caught. These two centres were caught. And I am only talking of the scoring that happened this year compared to last year.

Ignore the centres and 1,563 students (facing re-examination). You just compare the score versus rank this year versus last year. And that is where you come to know that what happened is impossible.

67 toppers in NEET exams are impossible. At 600 (marks) you cannot have 80,000 ranks -- which was around 30,000 ranks (last year), and these are the questions that need to be asked.

Is that the reason people doubt this year's NEET results, because of such good marks and ranks?

Yes, exactly. In the history of India this kind of scores and ranks has never happened in exams. And so many students got such good scores in NEET.

Cancelling grace marks for 1,563 students and telling them to reappear for exams did not make any difference to the protests. Why did this move not satisfy the agitating students?

You must remember these 1,563 students complained and therefore they got grace marks in NEET. (The students complained that they were not given the allotted time of 3 hours 20 minutes to complete their tests so on the recommendation of a committee constituted by the National Testing Agency, compensatory marks were awarded to them).

How many students go to the NTA or to court to complain after the exams?

These 1m563 students complained and therefore NTA gave them grace marks. Are you then suggesting that every student who has a problem after exams will go to court or go to NTA (for grace marks)?

Does the NEET policy allow such grace marks?

NTA responds when the court interferes, otherwise they won't even respond. They don't have any customer service or student response (cell).

NTA was always found to be wanting in transparency. They responded to queries on why some students got 718 and 719 marks so we came to know about grace marks or else we would have never known about the grace marks.

And we came to know of it because the students went to court, isn't it?

Yes. Now about this newspaper report from Godhra and Patna centres, I will say it is a selective leak.

Many people are asking for re-examination of NEET because of the paper leak. Do you feel it is the right solution?

I am not suggesting that is the way forward.

The way to move forward is to have a forensic and technical audit which they must complete in 7 to 15 days.

And assuming that there is a large scale paper leak, then do a re-test, otherwise confine it to assuming 7 or 20 centres where reports (of leak) have come out.

Have some outside agency to look into the data. You (the National Testing Agency) cannot give yourself a clean cheat. You cannot give two centres data leak to a publication. That is not the way to function.

What is the government's stand? Is it admitting there has been wrongdoing in NEET?

I don't know what the government stance is.

Government is trying to defend NTA rather than the people.

The government gets confused whether they have to represent the people or the institutions that are reporting to them. And this is a wrong way of dealing with the situation.

The government must be responding to students whereas it is becoming a representative of NTA. Government is becoming a spokesperson of NTA.

But how come NTA was not aware that students getting such high marks in NEET is a problem?

Again I am saying, all we know is that the score versus rank has been outrageously improbable in this NEET. That is all we know now.

When a specific question was raised they (the National Testing Agency) said we gave grace marks.

I don't know what other questions to ask (to the National Testing Agency). All I know is that the scores and marks of NEET this year for students is dramatically (opposite) to what it is supposed to be (every year).

Has the time come to revamp NEET as the centralised examination model doesn't seem to be working?

No. It is not like throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Earlier, when states were conducting exams there were leaks happening and re-tests were done. But then this was confined to each state and was not spread across the country.

Whoever conducts the exams, there will be such problems. The thing is that how as an institution you deal with the problem and ensure the integrity of examination is maintained.

It is in the hands of NTA. The National Testing Agency is not responsive and not transparent. They are not accountable and not open for scrutiny.

NTA is giving themselves a clean chit, and that is the problem.

But then one or two centres in India will always have people who will ensure that corrupt practices are followed in conducting NEET.


The Tamil Nadu government says NEET prevents poor people and middle class from becoming doctors as it is a coaching centre driven examinations. In other words NEET is against social justice and only helps the rich to become doctors.

Yes, absolutely. As long as demand-supply is so bad you will always get into this problem.

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