The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development has withdrawn its decision taken a month ago to conduct the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) twice a year from 2019. It has also dropped its ambitious plan to hold the test only in online mode, according to officials.

NEET will be conducted on May 5, 2019, in pen-and-paper mode.

The decision follows recommendations from the Ministry of Health, which raised concerns about conducting the exam twice a year saying such an arrangement might put additional pressure on students.

The health ministry also voiced concern about the online mode saying students living in rural areas might suffer.

READ | NEET 2019 to be conducted on May 5; check registration, admit card release, result dates

Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar had last year announced that the newly-formed National Testing Agency (NTA) would conduct the NEET for medical admissions, along with the Joint Entrance Examination-Main for admission to engineering colleges, twice a year.

He had also announced that all exams conducted by NTA would be computer-based.

The health ministry then wrote to the HRD airing its concerns.

“The change in the NEET exam pattern as against the statement earlier, which will now be a single exam in pen-and-paper mode and in the same number of languages as has been conducted last year, is on the request of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, which wanted the same pattern followed last year to be maintained,” PTI quoted a senior HRD official as saying.

After a tentative schedule was released in July, the HRD Ministry made public the final schedule of the examinations to be conducted by NTA.

“NTA is also establishing a countrywide network of test practice centres (TPCs) for students of rural areas so that everyone will have an opportunity to practice before the exam. The TPCs will have a downloaded Computer Based Test (CBT) which will be similar to the actual test to be conducted on the exam day,” said the official.

He added: “The practice tests will help the candidates to familiarise themselves with logging into the system, going through the detailed instructions regarding the test, using the mouse or numeric keyboard on screen (virtual) for attempting each question, scrolling down to the next question, navigating between questions, reviewing and editing their options and submit questions.”

(With PTI)