After a prolonged delay, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has finally released the official notification of NEET 2018 on February 8, 2018. The NEET application form has also been released on the same date and candidates will be able to submit the same till March 9, 2018. The exam will be held on Sunday, May 6, 2018. As confirmed by the notification, major changes have been introduced to the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) 2018 in terms of the scope of the exam, eligibility criteria and number of languages.
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One of these changes which is likely to become a huge source of controversy and debate in the coming days is the barring of open school students from appearing for the national-level medical entrance exam. The issue had made its way to the headlines over the past month after it was revealed that the Medical Council of India had decided to bar open school candidates from appearing for the exam because of their lack of practical training in Classes 11 and 12. Following this, numerous media reports asserted that the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) had decided to revoke the MCI decision. The NEET notification 2018 however clearly proves otherwise. As per the notification, “Candidates who have passed 10+2 from Open Schools or as Private candidates shall not be eligible to appear for National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test-UG”
Along with this, another change likely to trigger anger among many NEET 2018 aspirants is the reintroduction of the upper age limit rule, an issue which had also overshadowed NEET 2017. Candidates should ensure they check the complete NEET 2018 eligibility criteria as declared by the CBSE before proceeding to fill the application form of NEET 2018.
Key changes in NEET 2018
The CBSE had held NEET as a single-window entrance exam for all medical and dental institutions across all states for the first time last year. As such, there were many rules and regulations which were introduced but could not be implemented successfully or had to be withdrawn. The notification of NEET 2018 reflects the inclusion of various changes which were in the pipeline last year but could not be executed.
The changes which have been introduced in NEET 2018 and will be applicable for the exam this year are:
Open School students not allowed: A Gazette of India notification published on January 23, 2018 had earlier revealed that the Medical Council of India (MCI) had made amendments to the NEET 2018 Eligibility Criteria as per which students from open schools would not be allowed to apply. This had happened despite the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) promising students that it would revoke this rule and allow all NIOS students to appear. The NEET 2018 notification however reveals that the MCI’s proposal has prevailed. Therefore, open school and NIOS students who were eligible till NEET 2017 will no longer be able to appear for the exam from this year onwards.
Upper age limit reintroduced: A huge controversy was generated last year when the CBSE unexpectedly introduced an upper age limit of 25 years for General Category students and of 30 years for Reserved Category students to be eligible to appear for NEET. Eventually the Supreme Court removed the NEET upper age limit criteria last year. However, as had earlier been published in the Gazette of India notification dated January 23, 2018 and has now been confirmed in the NEET notification, the upper age limit has been reintroduced this year. This means that unreserved NEET 2018 aspirants above the age of 25 years and reserved category NEET 2018 aspirants above the age of 30 years will not be able to apply. Basically, only candidates born on or after May 7, 1993 (1988 in the case of Reserved Categories) and on or before January 1, 2002, will be eligible to apply for NEET 2018
AYUSH admissions to be through NEET: Apart from the approximately 65,000 MBBS seats and 25,000 BDS seats which will be offered for admissions through NEET 2018, admissions to all Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) undergraduate courses across all states will also be through NEET. These include BAMS, BHMS, BUMS, BSMS and BNYS courses. The AYUSH Ministry had first asked all states to hold admissions to these courses through NEET from 2017 itself. However, only a few states like Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Kerala among others were able to conduct AYUSH admissions through NEET last year. The AYUSH Ministry had released a notification in April 2017 which stated that "Admission in AYUSH UG Courses shall be compulsorily through NEET merit list from Academic Year 2018-19". The NEET 2018 notification now confirms the same.
Urdu introduced as new language option: After a prolonged struggle last year by the Students Islamic Organization of India (SIO) to convince the Supreme Court to include Urdu as one of the languages in NEET, the NEET 2018 notification confirms that the CBSE will be including Urdu as one of the language options for NEET 2018, taking the total number of languages in which the exam is held to 11.
AP, Telangana join All India Quota: Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the two states apart from Jammu and Kashmir which had exempted themselves from the NEET 15% All India Quota scheme since its inception, have decided to participate in the same from NEET 2018 onwards. This means that 15% of the seats available in the Government Medical and Dental colleges of these two states will now be available for All India Quota counselling. Also, candidates from these states will be able to participate in the All India Quota process without having to submit the prescribed self-declaration form. The notification declares, “As the States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have decided to join and contribute their MBBS/BDS seats for the allotment to the candidates under 15% All India Quota from the academic year 2018-19 onward, the candidates belonging to these States shall also be eligible for 15% All India Quota seats.
Eligible candidates should note that they will be required to submit the NEET application form within the given dates otherwise they will not be allowed to download the NEET admit card.