The news that has got many NEET and JEE Main 2019 aspirants excited recently is NTA’s announcement to set up 3000 computer practice centres across the country. The objective is to provide candidates with adequate opportunity to practice taking the computer-based test in an appropriate environment.
3000 practice centres have been set up mostly in rural areas for the preparation of competitive, national level exams as that of JEE Main 2019 and NEET. These will prove beneficial for aspirants and help them gain experience of the computer-based test (CBT) model. The practice centres will be functional on weekends only and candidates can register to book practice sessions. And, it must be noted that the candidates will not be charged anything for these sessions.
The centres are expected to be operational by the third week of August 2018.A mobile application will be launched by NTA to locate nearest practice centre, register for practice and book a session.
This announcement comes soon after NTA’s decision to switch the mode of both NEET and JEE Main examinations from offline to online completely, from 2019 onwards. The switch is to ensure smooth and error-free delivery of the examinations and transparency in evaluation. A number of logistics issues like a paper leak and a shortage of question papers is expected to cease to occur as a result of the switch from the offline to online mode of test. However, there has been a lot of backlash against NTA’s decision of making the online mode of examination mandatory as majority of students are apprehensive of taking the computer-based test.
Though both NEET, as well as JEE Main, had the option to be taken as online examination till the last year, as per statistics, the number of test–takers opting for the online mode reveals how uncomfortable the candidates at large are to attempt the computer-based test. In 2018, of 11.5 lakh candidates that registered for JEE Main, a meagre 2.25 lakh opted for the CBT while in 2017, of 12 lakh applicants just 1.8 lakh opted for the online test. In both the years, the rest of the offline candidates chose to take the customary paper-based test.
The reason for such preference is undeniably the unfamiliarity to computers operations for the majority of candidates in question. Till the school level in India, all the exams are conducted in the offline mode. Also, students primarily from the rural setting or economically backward sections, have mostly no exposure to computer usage as the study of computers is not compulsory. Taking a crucial qualifying exam in a mode in which a candidate doesn’t have any experience at all is a very daunting task. Under the circumstances, NTA’s decision to set up the practice centres for pre-examination practice sessions is certainly of huge help to future aspirants of NEET and JEE Main. The initial shock and anxiety in the context of the online mode of examination are expected to be soothed by this initiative of the Agency.
Educational institutes with ready computer labs in primarily rural areas will be identified for setting up of the practice centres. Candidates can access these centres to practice computer-based mock tests in the lines of JEE Main and NEET (UG) free of cost. The practice centres will be an operational 3rd week of August 2018 onwards, on weekends, i.e., Saturdays and Sundays.
NTA will also launch a mobile app, for both Android and IOS, through which candidates will be able to locate the nearest practice centre and register themselves to book Practice Sessions. The candidates who book practice sessions will be allotted one-hour slots each to attempt a real computer-based examination at the centres thus getting themselves acclimatized with the online examination mode.
NTA has further assured that no changes in exam pattern, syllabus or difficulty level will be introduced as of now. However, since the agency is planning to bring about a qualitative difference in the competitive examination system, major changes can be anticipated to be initiated in the coming years. Though NTA has made another effort at easing the pressure of performance on students by scheduling both the exams twice a year so that the candidates can write the tests comfortably. For the time being, students need to tackle the primary task of acing the computer-based test. JEE Main is tentatively scheduled for January and April while NEET (UG) slated to be held on February and May in 2019. The official notification for the same is expected to be announced by the Agency on September 1, 2018.