The national medical entrance exam, NEET, will be held on September 12 following COVID-19 safety rules, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan announced on Monday.

The decision to conduct country’s single entrance exam for MBBS admission came months after its last announcement on March 12, when it was said that the exam will be held on August 1.

On Monday, the education minister announced the NEET dates on Twitter and said that for smooth conduct of the exam the number of centres will be increased. He also said that this year exams will be held in new cities.

“In order to ensure social distancing norms, number of cities where examination will be conducted has been increased from 155 to 198. The number of examination centres will also be increased from the 3862 centres used in 2020. To ensure adherence to COVID-19 protocols, face mask will be provided to all candidates at the centre. Staggered time slots during entry and exit, contactless registration, proper sanitisation, seating with social distancing etc. will also be ensured,” he has tweeted.

Students and parents have heaved a sigh of relief after the NEET date was announced.

The engineering entrance exam, JEE main was also put on hold since March. On July 6, the registration process for the pending two sessions of the exam, out of the four sessions, had begun. The JEE main exam will be held from July 20 to 25 and from July 27 to August 2. This year, JEE main is being held four times in order to give more chances to students to compensate for their academic loss during the pandemic.

However, it is not feasible to hold NEET for more than once, the exam conducting body, NTA has been told. In January 2021, the National Testing Agency (NTA) had written to the health ministry on the feasibility of holding the exam twice a year. “The move to hold the test twice would bring relief to students. However, presently it is not easy to conduct a pen and paper twice as it requires much larger arrangements. The NTA has also suggested that the possibility of holding it in the online mode may be examined,” the agency was told.

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