In contrast to the previous years when the conduct of the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) was fraught with several issues, the exam held on Sunday was largely a smooth process. Even the last-minute changes at test centres in Madurai were not a cause for complaint, candidates said.
The test was held in the afternoon instead of morning to accommodate candidates coming from other towns. The regulations on dress code and entry were stringent, but they were communicated through the media well in advance. The test centres provided a separate enclosure for frisking of girl students.
Besides, the students in Tamil Nadu, after writing the NEET exam for two years, has given have gained some clarity about what to expect.
The National Testing Agency, which conducted the NEET for the first time, came in for praise from parents for the arrangements it had put in place.
On Sunday, 1,34,711 candidates, including 81,241 girls and 53,470 boys, were registered for the test held at 188 centres in the State. In Chennai, 26,035 students were registered for the test at 31 centres, which included a few engineering colleges.
The Chennai City Coordinator said the test went off smoothly. In the Coimbatore region, 11,300 candidates from Coimbatore, Tiruppur, and the Nilgiris took the test at 13 centres. P.S. Martin, City Coordinator for NTA in Coimbatore, said 2,024 candidates did not appear. In Salem, 17,500 students appeared from 17 centres and in Namakkal, 5,283 students took the test at nine centres.
“The test was better organised this year. The students were a relieved lot as they had sufficient time to reach the centres,” said RVS Muralidharan, Director, Seekers Educational Services.
Despite instructions some candidates had come with jewellery and watches. Security staff and sometimes other parents reminded them to take them off.
Several Muslim students decided to discard the burkha for the test. At a centre in West Mambalam a burkha-clad mother of a student from Royapettah said her daughter left her burkha at home. The aunt of another candidate, a resident of Chromepet, said, “My niece left her burkha in the car. She wore a shawl but they refused to allow her to wear even that,” she said.
The mother of a candidate outside a test centre in Kilpauk was unhappy that her daughter was made to remove her shawl. A resident of a village in Tiruvanamalai, she said her family had reached the city Saturday night and tried to find an appropriate dress for her daughter to comply with the dress code.
Many students sported either plain white or pastel-coloured clothes. “We read up on the rules to ensure that candidates aren’t stressed on this count, at least ahead of the test,” S. Vanathy, a parent said.
(With inputs from Tara Kurien in Chennai, Tiruchi, Wilson Thomas in Coimbatore, Vignesh Vijayakumar in Salem, R. Krishnamoorthy, and Pon Vasanth B.A. from Madurai)