The implementation of the exit examination for medical graduates in India has been debated for the past several years. The National Exit Test (NExT), under the construct of the National Medical Commission Act, aims to serve two purposes: a common exit/ licentiate examination for all Indian medical graduates, and a test for postgraduate selections for all specialties.
The current licensing exam known as FMGE (Foreign Medical Graduate Exam) is mandatory for only those medical graduates who have completed their MBBS abroad and aspire to practice in India. With the implementation of NExT, all medical graduates whether they have studied MBBS abroad or in India will have to qualify for the NExT exam to be licensed to practice in India.
The NExT exam was proposed by the NMC in 2019 as a national-level single licentiate and eligibility test for MBBS graduates and would be replacing the NEET PG and FMGE.
The NExT exam has been a topic of discussion quite often with aspirants waiting impatiently for some clarity as to the nature of the exam and the exact timelines according to which it would be implemented.
But what exactly is NExT? How is it different from FMGE? And what does it mean for Indian medical students?
What is the NExT exam?
The proposed NExT was introduced by NMC in 2019 as a “national-level single licentiate and eligibility test for MBBS graduates”. The exam will be replacing the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test Post Graduation (NEET PG) exam, which is the entrance exam for admission into PG medical courses in India, and the Foreign Medical Graduates Examination (FMGE), which is required to be cleared by those who have studies MBBS abroad. In other words, NExT would be applicable to all undergraduate medical students currently pursuing MBBS in all medical colleges in India as well as abroad.
All in all, it will be a licensing test for students who want to practice medicine in India as well as it will be a gateway to post-graduation.
👉 Unlike the FMGE and NEET PG, NExT is not an entrance exam. As the name suggests, it is an exit test which means it’s marked either Pass or Fail. To qualify, the students have to score 50% marks only.
What is the format of the exam?
As per the latest NMC’s draft guidelines, the NExT exam will be conducted in two steps- namely NExT 1 and NExT 2.
NExT-1 would be a theoretical and objective exam. This exam would be conducted once a year in the Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ) format in the Computer-Based Testing (CBT) mode (online). The exam at this step will consist of six papers, covering all subjects of the final MBBS year.
In general, the complete curriculum of MBBS is divided into three phases- Pre-Clinical, Para-Clinical and Clinical. The Clinical phase is then later divided into two parts. The NExT is likely to replace the theory exams at the Para clinical (NExT 1) and Clinical phase (NExT 2).
Once after clearing the NExT-1 the students are required to undergo the compulsory rotatory internship for a year and then appear for NExT-2.
The NExT-2 is a Practical/Clinical and Viva based examination covering all the 7 clinical subjects. This exam is likely to be conducted in person either by the state medical university of the respective college or by the authorized university.
The exam aims to assess not only the clinical skills of the MBBS graduate, but also their clinical decision-making and communication skills.
Current Pathway For Getting Medical License In India
Pathway To Get Medical License After The Introduction of NExT
What is the evaluation criteria & qualification process for NExT?
In order to qualify NExT- 1 and be eligible for NExT- 2 and proceed to the next step the students are required to score at least 50% of the marks in all papers. “The total marks scored across the six papers will be tallied as the raw scores of the candidates, and the corresponding percentages may be calculated ‘if required’.”, said the NMC’s draft guidelines.
At NExT 2, the entire evaluation will be based on their performance in the practical test and will be declared either pass or fail.
How many attempts do candidates have in order to clear NExT?
NExT 1 & 2 will have a usual regular exam and a supplementary exam in the year. With this, the students have the chance to appear for the supplementary exams if they fail to clear the regular exam, making a total number of attempts 2 in a given year.
Though, there is no limit on the number of attempts for either of the exams, in order to clear the test, it must be done within 10 years from the date of joining their MBBS course.
What are some areas where the marks will play an important role?
As per the current guidelines all medical graduates of India have to complete their Compulsory Rotatory Medical Internship (CRMI) as a part of their curriculum. With NExT, the students will have to be eligible to sign up for the CRMI. This will be only possible, if they have cleared the NExT-1 with the desired score in all the papers. After the completion of CRMI, the students would have to also clear the final term papers before appearing and qualifying NExT-2 and finally get the licentiate.
For Foreign Medical Graduates (FMGs) to be eligible to pursue an internship in India, the eligibility to appear for CRMI remains the same. They will have to clear the NExT-1 exam with 50% or more marks in all six papers.
In order to be registered as a medical practitioner in the Indian Medical Register or the State Medical Register, the students will have to complete their required internship durations and pass NExT Step II as well.
For admissions in the postgraduate broad specialty courses in medicine at Indian medical colleges, students must have cleared NExT 1, their internship, the final MBBS practical exam of their respective colleges and NExT 2.
The students will then have to attend counseling in order to gain admission into their choice of course and seat. Merit for admission into PG courses will be calculated based on the NExT- 1 marks. For this purpose, the tota; marks across all the six subjects will be considered. These marks, for admission into PG courses will remain valid for three years.
What is the schedule for NExT?
NExT I is expected to be held in the second week of December, and results are to be anticipated by the second week of January. The CRMI period will then last for about a year, assuming it starts from February and ends in February next year.
Therefore, NExT-2 will be conducted in March, with results scheduled by April. The admission process into PG courses would likely begin in May and conclude by the end of June. Accordingly, the PG Classes would begin from July.