According to figures revealed by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), over 13.36 lakh hopefuls have registered for NEET 2018, up from 11.5 lakh who had registered in 2017. The total number of seats in MBBS and BDS institutes across the country stands at 60,000. Admissions to undergraduate medical and dental courses across the country are compelled to get difficult with the total registrations for the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) increasing by almost two lakh.

Experts have attributed this increase in registrations to a number of reasons, including more and more states opting for NEET scores instead of state conducted Common Entrance Tests (CETs) for all health science courses, as well as an overall increase in the number of students clearing Class 12 exams every year.

“Various policies and scholarships made available by the central government as well as state governments have encouraged higher number of students clearing secondary and higher secondary education across the country. We anticipate an increase on the basis of this reason every year,” said Dr Pravin Shingare, director, Directorate of Medical Education & Research (DMER). The registrations stood at 7.5 lakh in 2016, the year when NEET was conducted in two phases in order to give students extra time to prepare for the test.

NEET was first introduced in May 2013 and was quickly scrapped in 2014, making way for various states conducting separate Common Entrance Test (CET) for admissions to medical and dental institutes in their states. In 2016, the Supreme Court of India reinforced the compulsion on NEET, making it the single window entrance exam for admission to all medical and dental institutes in the country.

Keeping this in mind, the Maharashtra medical education department decided to scrap CET for medical education altogether, making NEET compulsory for all students aiming at seats in all health science courses, including MBBS and BDS. In the last year, more states have been encouraging institutes to go by NEET scores to help rid numerous entrance examinations and reduce the burden of students.

“Students from across the country have realised that NEET is more important than state conducted CETs, therefore more and more have been opting for the national level examinations. Sadly the number of seats is still very limited and the competition keeps getting tougher,” said Aruna Roy, a parent of an MBBS aspirant.

CBSE has already started distributing admit cards to registered candidates. NEET (UG) 2018 will be conducted in 11 languages across the country on May 6.

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