An expert committee constituted to look into modalities of the proposed single entrance test for admission to all MBBS courses across India has recommended that there should be no negative marking in the exam.
The committee set by the Medical Council of India (MCI) has also recommended that there should be objective type questions and a percentile score to determine the merit of all applicants in the proposed National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to MBBS courses from the next year.
The recommendations have been submitted to the MCI and its Board of Governors will soon take a final call after consulting officials of the Health Ministry.
If the expert panel's suggestion regarding negative marking is accepted, it will be for the first time that the centrally-conducted medical entrance test for undergraduate courses in India will not have such a system.
Sources said that the suggestion of not having negative marking was rooted in concerns of low scores by applicants in the entrance exam, leading to MBBS seats going vacant in various medical colleges in the country due to lack of merit.
Such concerns have primarily been voiced by north-eastern states which fear that their students may not match up to others in the all-India merit in the NEET.
In this context, the MCI is also working on the possibility of lowering the cut-offs for MBBS admissions.
At present, the proposed cut-off is 50 per cent for the general category students and 40 per cent for the reserved categories.
When asked, Chairman of the MCI Board of Governors K K Talwar said, "We do not want any seat to go vacant.
"We are working to ensure that all MBBS seats are filled up. We are working out the modalities of the NEET exam and would soon notify the same."
Talwar said, "We are proposing to replace the old percentage system with percentiles to determine the merit list of candidate in the exam.
"We may further keep a clause for relaxing this cut-off percentile in such states where all the MBBS seats are not filled. Also, we have clarified the misconception that some states have about them losing their medical seats.
"Their seats will remain with them and different states will do their own counselling for the MBBS admission."
The exam is also proposed to have 180 questions, with 90 questions set aside for Biology and 45 each for Physics and Chemistry.
The Medical Council of India (MCI) will hold the proposed NEET in collaboration with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in February next year for admission to a total of 40,335 MBBS seats in 330 medical colleges across the country.
About 10 lakh candidates are likely to sit for the examination next year, which is being conducted by the CBSE.
The CBSE plans to hold the examination in two languages -English and Hindi, as in the case of all other all-India exams.
The MCI, however, is also yet to take a call on the issue of holding the exam in different vernacular languages, as desired by some states like Gujarat, West Bengal and Karnataka, who have expressed their reservations on the joint all-India exam on this count.