The government has invoked provisions of the NMC Act by which the time limit for conducting the National Exit Test (NExT) exam for the final year MBBS students has been extended till September 2024.
Though there is no official word so far that the NExT exam will not be held in 2023, the Union Health Ministry’s gazette notification on September 23 invoking section 59 of the National Medical Commission (NMC) Act states the regulations for conducting the exam are yet to be framed and formation of examination cell is under process.
According to the NMC Act, the commission has to conduct a common final year undergraduate medical examination NExT within three years of it coming into force.
The Act came into force in September 2020.
The NExT will serve as a common qualifying final year MBBS exam, a licentiate exam to practise modern medicine and for merit-based admission to postgraduate courses and a screening exam for foreign medical graduates who want to practise in India.
The notification stated that “even after passing of almost two years, regulations in the matter are yet to be framed and also constitution of the examination cell is under process”.
“Now, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 59 of the National Medical Commission Act, 2019, the Central Government hereby makes the following order, to remove the said difficulties,” it said.
This order may be called the National Medical Commission first (Removal of Difficulties) order, 2022, and shall come into force on the date of its publication in the Official Gazette.
“In sub-section (3) of section 15 of the Act, for the words, ‘three years’, the words ‘four years’ shall be substituted,” the notification read.
According to official sources, NEET-PG is conducted around April or May of every year and as NExT is supposed to replace it, the exam has to be conducted in April or May.
Conducting an exam requires preparations such as working out the modalities and deciding on the syllabus, type and pattern of the exam on whether it will be an analytical or a multiple choice questions-based test and number of tests and requisite regulations etc, officials said.
Students also need to be given adequate time to prepare for the new exam, they said, adding mock tests need to be held and it also needs to be decided which agency will conduct the exam.
The importance of the NExt exam lies in the fact that it will be the same for every MBBS student, whether trained in India or abroad and hence it will solve the problem of foreign medical graduates (FMGs), officials said.