The National Eligibility cum Entrance Test-Undergraduate (NEET UG 2023) breached the 20-lakh mark. It received a record 20.8 lakh applications this year vying for close to 1.4 lakh MBBS/ BDS seats across India. The gender gap too breached the 2 lakh-mark with 11.8 lakh female candidates registering, which is 2.8 lakh more than male candidates.

There are two states with over two lakh registrations and seven states with over one lakh registrations. Bringing back the schedule to the pre-pandemic dates, National Testing Agency (NTA) on December 16, 2022 announced May 7 as the NEET-UG test dates, along with the dates for the JEE (Main) and CUET-UG. However, as exam dates are getting close a section of aspirants are asking for postponement of the exam on social media stating that they need more time for preparation.

Also Read: Last-minute NEET UG 2023 preparation: How to achieve top rank in NEET

According to registration trend data exclusively accessed by the TOI, 20,87,445 aspirants registered for the medical entrance test, which is 2.57 lakh candidates more than that of last year. Barring the Covid years of 2020 and 2021, when the growth of applicants was the lowest in a decade, otherwise year-on-year the exam has registered over 10% increase, with 2018 registering 16.5% growth. This year NEET-UG 2023 witnessed 11.5% increase in number of applications from that of 2022.

State-wise with 2.77 lakh registrations Maharashtra has the largest number of applicants, followed by Uttar Pradesh with 2.73 lakh. There are seven states – Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Bihar, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh (in descending order of number of candidates) – with each over one lakh registrations.

A total of 11,84,502 female candidates registered for the 2023 exams as against 9,02,930 male candidates. Category-wise OBC with 8.9 lakh has the highest number of candidates in the reserved category followed by SC with over 3 lakhs. There are 1.5 lakh candidates from the EWS category and 1.3 lakh from ST category. Over 6 lakh candidates are in the general category.

With active Covid cases crossing 70,000 in the country, many aspirants also claim that they didn’t get adequate time for preparation as they are asking for postponement of the test. However, according to senior government sources, the exams are to be conducted as scheduled. “The academic calendar needs to be back on track and that is why the dates were announced in December as part of the common calendar. Moreover, the test will be delivered with all Covid protocols as it was done in 2020 and 2021 without any problems,” said the official.

NEET-UG is the qualifying entrance exam for admission to Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS), Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine, and Surgery (BAMS), Bachelor of Siddha Medicine and Surgery (BSMS), Bachelor of Unani Medicine and Surgery (BUMS), and Bachelor of Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery (BHMS) and BSc (H) Nursing courses.