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NEET PG introduces time-bound MCQs format to combat cybercrime-led paper leaks | #cybercrime | #computerhacker


With looming cyber security threats and concern over alleged dark web hacking, it has become essential to secure our web systems, especially, when it comes to national exams conducted in computer-based format. Recently, the National Board of Examinations for Medical Sciences (NBEMS) has introduced the mandatory time-bound multiple-choice questions (MCQs) format for the NEET PG 2024 exam to combat the emerging threats of cybercrimes for exams conducted in computer-based tests (CBT) mode.

According to NBEMS, the same question format will be applied to all medical exams conducted in computer-based mode including such as NEET-PG, NEET-MDS, NEET-SS, FMGE, DNB-PDCET, GPAT, DPEE, FDST and FET.

Speaking to Education Times, Prof Dr Minu Bajpai, executive director, NBEMS and former dean (academics), AIIMS, New Delhi, says, “With over two lakh students appearing for NEET PG exams every year, it becomes necessary to safeguard the question papers from potential cyber frauds. CBT mode exams are conducted by a cyber-secure system enabled through government-appointed agencies, possessing advanced IT software and vast experience. With risk of cyber breach always looming, the system is constantly guarding the data against phishing.”

“The NBE is constantly on toes, taking updates from these agencies on the advances in cyber security. We learn from global mishaps or their potential related to cyber security from the information gathered through discussions with the agencies. Following this, pre-emptive steps are taken if there is any likely risk of cyber-security breach. The NBE has been successful in maintaining the sanctity of the system and the exams, to remain a step ahead when it comes to cyber security. Based upon cyber security risk analysis from the provider company, the NBEMS has taken the preventive steps to enhance the safety and security of the forthcoming CBT-based NEET PG examination, in the interest of the examinees,” adds Dr Bajpai.

According to NBEMS, in the new format, the question paper will be divided into multiple time-bound sections. In NEET-PG 2024, if there are five time-bound sections (A, B, C, D & E) in the question paper, each section will have 40 questions and 42 minutes allotted. Candidates will be restricted from proceeding to the next section until they complete the allotted time for the previous section. Additionally, candidates will not be allowed to review the questions or modify their responses for a section after the completion of its allotted time. The questions for the next section will start automatically after the completion of the allotted time for the previous section. The actual number of time-restricted sections in an examination will vary based on the total number of questions in the question paper and the operational feasibility of creating such sections.

The NEET PG 2024 exam has seen several changes this year. The exam was initially scheduled for March 3 and was later postponed to July 7. The National Medical Commission (NMC) recently advanced the exam date to June 23 due to the Rath Yatra festival in Puri.

With last minute changes in the exam format, the medical associations have vehemently condemned NBEMS and have asked it to reconsider their decision.

Dr Aviral Mathur, president, Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association (FORDA), the new time-bound format is a welcoming move by the exam conducting board, however, the announcement at the eleventh hour is contrary to conscience. “The NBE has brought in several changes in the exam pattern in the last 10 years. With the new time-bound rule, the question paper will be divided into different sections facilitating the candidate appearing for the exam, to concentrate in one section at a time. The candidate will have more mental clarity in this way. But, the NBE could have informed the candidates well in advance, announcing this about 50 days ahead of the exam has created unwanted anxiety among aspirants,” says Dr Mathur.

Dr Rohan Krishnan, national president, Federation of All India Medical Association (FAIMA) says, “We are against any kind of last minute changes. The NBEMS should refrain from treating young aspirants who are graduates doctors like lab rats. We stands against this last minute modifications in exam/exam patterns. We requesting NBE to cancel this new rule.”

“The sudden introduction of mandatory time-bound sections adds an additional layer of stress and uncertainty, affecting the performance and well-being of the aspirants. We believe that such significant changes require adequate time for adaptation and preparation, which the current timeline does not afford. We propose that these changes be implemented gradually, allowing aspirants sufficient time to adapt and prepare effectively,” adds Dr Krishnan.

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