Is the National Exit Test mandatory for medical students?

October 26, 2023

National Exit Test or NExT is a government licentiate exam undertaken by medical students pursuing MBBS in India, as well as abroad. NExT is a common exam for all medical students who want to practice medicine in India. It also serves as a gateway to post-graduation studies for the medical students. The pattern of the NExTexam is that it is conducted in two parts i.e. NExT1 and NExT 2.   

NExT-1: is a theoretical examination conducted once a year. This test is conducted based on a Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) format which is held online in a computer-based testing (CBT) mode. This exam consists of six papers covering all the subjects of the MBBS final year testing the conceptual understanding of the student.

NExT-2 is a practical/clinical and Viva-based examination. This examination covers all seven clinical subjects. The exam will be conducted in person, i.e., either by the state medical university of the respective college or by the authorized university.

The MBBS curriculum is divided into three phases

– Pre-Clinical

– Para-Clinical

– and, Clinical.

The Clinical phase is later divided into two parts. 

The theory exam in the para-clinical phase is expected to be replaced by NExT. After successfully clearing the  NExT 1, the student can proceed to the clinical phase (NExT2). Following a mandatory one-year rotatory internship, students become eligible to take NeXT-2. 

The NExT Evaluation Process 

NExT is conducted in two steps. So once the students clear NExT1, the proceeding exam is NExT 2. The two separate exams are different in format and are compulsory for the students to undertake. To qualify for the NExT 2, students must score a minimum of 50% marks in NExT1. In NExT 2 the entire evaluation is based on the performance of the students which tests them on their practical knowledge based on which the student will be declared as either ‘pass or fail’. 

Criteria for Practicing Medicine in India 

Medical graduates are divided into two, they are Indian medical graduates (IMG) who study and complete their MBBS studies in India, and Foreign Medical graduates (FMG) are students who complete their medical studies from a foreign university. The NExT exam is compulsory for both IMG and FMG students. Prior to the introduction of  NExT, IMGs could obtain their medical license just after completion of compulsory rotatory internship, since this was part of the curriculum in India. But now with the introduction of NExT, all medical students (IMG as well as FMG) are required to appear for the examination in order to be eligible for practicing medicine in India. 

For FMGs, earlier there was an exam ‘Foreign Graduate Medical Examination’, passing which they could obtain a license that allows them to practice in India.

The implementation of NExT marks a significant change. Foreign Medical Graduates (FMGs) will no longer be required to take the FMGE exam for licensure. Additionally, passing NExT will enable them to pursue advanced studies, including post-graduate programs in India.   

For students to be registered medical practitioners in India, it is compulsory to pass the NExT exam. To get admission to postgraduate broad specialty courses in medicine students must clear the following  –

–          NExT1,

–          their internship, the final MBBS practical exam of their respective colleges

–          and, NExT2. 

Counseling will be done for the students to gain admission into their choice of course and seat. Admission in the PG courses is based on merit i.e., it is determined by the marks obtained in the NExT 1. The total marks across all six subjects will be considered. The marks obtained in NeXT 1 will indeed remain valid for three years.

The next exam is all set to replace two of the exams that are currently in use, which are the NEET-PG and FMGE. The aim of NExT is to unify the exam pattern in India for medical students and streamline the process to make it easy for the students to pursue medical practice as well as take up post-graduation courses. The exam aims to assess the clinical skills of the MBBS graduate and also test their clinical decision-making and communication skills.