However, NEET aspirants told Education Times that their decision to take the exam while risking their health was driven by helplessness.
Pratham Malik, who passed class XII in 2018 from Pathania Public School in Rohtak, was diligently preparing for NEET 2020 as he could not get into a reputed medical college in 2019.
“I could not get into a government college last year and hence decided to drop and prepare for NEET 2020. This year, students have been constantly in trouble because of the virus scare, rescheduling of exam and delayed academic session. As I have dropped a year already, I did not have the liberty to invest one more year as the course is 5.5 years long. It has been depressing that we have been almost forced to write the exam amid an increasing number of Covid-19 cases,” adds Malik.
Similarly, Pragati Mishra passed class XII in 2019 from open-schooling through Jharkhand Academic Council (JAC) and was preparing for NEET 2020 for over a year now. Till September 10, coronavirus was spreading quickly in her colony in Ranchi.
“I had already put in a year into preparing and I could not afford to miss this year’s exam. Though the condition in my colony was deteriorating, I took all the precautions at home and chose to appear for the exam. My immune system is weak. What if I am tested Covid-19 positive in the next few days? The thought in itself is scary,” says Mishra.
She adds, “There are not many alternative ways to get into medical courses in India. The mental pressure affects the performance in the exam. If I am unable to score well for MBBS, then I will have to look at an alternative such as BDS, because I cannot afford to waste a year.”
While many appeared for the exam with precautionary measures, some did not have this choice. Vaibhav Kumar, who cleared class XII this year from Maheshwari Public School, Jaipur, could not appear for the exam as he could not risk his grandparents’ health.
“I live with my grandparents who suffer from diabetes, which puts them at a higher risk of contracting life-threatening coronavirus. I was preparing for NEET for over two years now, but my grandparents are old and my parents would not allow me to appear for the exam while risking family’s health. I will now have to change my stream to BSc in Biology or BA. I may appear for NEET 2021,” adds Kumar.