The overall attendance rate of NEET girl candidates suffered a steep drop in percentage this year as the medical entrance examination was marred by safety concerns in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, for the first time in four years, the attendance rate of girls fell behind boys.

While 7,48,866 girls appeared for NEET in comparison to 6,18,075 boys, the overall attendance rate fell from 92.85% to 85.57%. However, the gender break-up shows the fall is sharper in case of girls, The Sunday Express reported.

As per data released by the National Testing Agency (NTA) after the announcement of the results for the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, the percentage of male candidates dropped by close to seven points compared to last year. While 86.25% of the registered male candidates appeared for the test, which 6.38 percentage points lower than 2019, 85.02% of the female registered candidates appeared for NEET. Therefore, for women, the percentage points dropped by 8.01 percentage from last year.

“We tried finding out the reasons when we found the overall attendance to be much lower this year. In pre-Covid times, students used to appear for NEET before their Board examination result. A student gets admission to a medical college only if she has obtained the minimum percentage required in the Class 12 exam. This year, NEET was held after the Board results. Students who didn’t qualify the Board exam probably did not sit for the test,” a senior officer in the NTA told The Sunday Express.

The official added that more girls have qualified NEET than boys.

However, the qualification rate of those who appeared for the test stands almost unchanged as last year. While 57.15% of the girl examinees qualified, the percentage of boys stood at 55.58%.

This year, the NEET was at the center of a major controversy over demands of postponement or cancellation of the medical entrance exam. From international environmental activist Greta Thunberg to Delhi’s deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, there was clamour among political leaders, activists, students, parents, and other stakeholders who sought postponement of both the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) and NEET in September amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the Supreme Court gave its nod to the NTA to conduct the entrance exams, ensuring safety measures to check a possibility of a spread of the coronavirus disease due to these tests.

The results of the National Entrance cum Eligibility Test, NEET 2020 were released by the National Testing Agency (NTA) on Friday with Odisha’s Soyeb Aftab topping the exam with a perfect 720 score. As per the NTA website, however, Akansha Singh from Delhi also scored a perfect 720.

But Aftab, not Singh, is being considered the topper. But how was Aftab chosen as the topper over Singh? Apparently, because he is older.

According to the NTA, many factors can be used as tie-breakers for when students’ score identical marks. These include age of students, the number of incorrect answers, and subject-wise marks. At an initial level, the scores are calculated on the basis of Biology and Chemistry scores. In Aftab’s case, since both scored identical marks and top-most marks, Aftab was declared the topper was he was older

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