Parents and students began assembling nearly two hours before the National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test (NEET) was scheduled to begin outside several examination centres in the city.
For several students from the State board stream, who had completed their board exams in March, the 40 days had been filled with day-long classes as part of crash courses that they had enrolled in.
Apart from private courses, nearly 4,000 students from government schools across the State had been enrolled in a month-long residential crash course which the School Education Department had organised after March 25.
“The crash course I enrolled in definitely helped me brush up on the concepts better. While biology was easy, chemistry was more challenging than I expected,” said Divya Priya, who took the exam at a centre in Nungambakkam. Several students felt that physics and chemistry were tougher than Biology, which was along expected lines.
The School Education Department had this year finished the board exams as early as March 19 and had also ensured that the results were out by mid-April — a move which many students felt facilitated their last leg of preparations to take up the competitive exam.
The exam paper had 180 questions, of which 90 were for biology and physics and chemistry each had 45 questions. Each question carried 4 marks.
“The conduct of the exam was meticulously planned. Even minute aspects were discussed with the staff of the NEET centres to ensure hassle-free conduct of the entrance test,” C.J. Chacko, Principal, Samadh Senior Secondary School, Certified City Coordinator for NEET in Tiruchi district, said.
Keeping in mind the last minute requirements of students, most of the centres in Chennai had arranged for taking instant photos as well as printing of government identity cards, if required.
While a majority of the students adhered to the dress code as well as avoided wearing jewellery and watches, a few were warned by security personnel outside the centres.
Announcements were also being made constantly at the exam centres to brief parents and the candidates on the exam rules as well as things not allowed inside the exam centres.
In Madurai, where there had been a change in five centres for the candidates, facilitation centres were set up in bus stands and the railway station to assist all candidates coming from other districts to take up the exam.
Lending support to a candidate, P. Saravanakumar, a head constable attached to Peelamedu police station in Coimbatore who was on duty in an examination centre in the area, helped a candidate by giving money to take a passport size photograph which the candidate had forgotten to carry.
Some parents, who had travelled long distances, had to wait until their children finished the examination. They complained of lack of access to bathrooms and drinking water.
“We’ve come from near Kallakurichi and landed here early in the morning. The water we brought with us is over and there are not many shops open nearby,” said S. Thandavan, whose grandson was writing the exam.
(With inputs from Pon Vasanth B.A. in Madurai, Wilson George Thomas in Coimbatore and R. Krishnamoorthy in Tiruchi)