Scenes outside of the exam centers across the country as well as in the state capital reflected the new normality of COVID-19: staggered entry and exit for candidates, disinfectants at the gate, distribution of masks and students queuing with safe social distance.
There were 18 testing centers in Delhi and a total of 660 across the country, officials from the National Testing Agency (NTA) said.
The exam, postponed twice in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, is scheduled for September 1-6. Tuesday was the first day of the exam.
Shivani, who took the computer-based exam at Arwachin Bharti Bhawan Senior Secondary School in Vivek Vihar, said she traveled from Dwarka Mor to the center with no difficulty.
“Amid the ongoing protests against the postponement of the exam, I thought the exam would not take place. But somewhere I didn’t want it to be postponed as it would have created more fear among students,” she said.
Another candidate from the center asked for anonymity, saying that all standard operating procedures within the exam center were followed and students were forced to sit at a reasonable safe distance.
Niharika, who had come from Mayur Vihar, said that all exam papers were given to her after being properly disinfected.
“We were also allowed to wear our own Santiser. At no point did we feel that our safety was compromised. We were also given a fresh mask at the center and all candidates were thermally examined,” she said.
Over 9 Lakh candidates have signed up for the JEE main exam for admission to engineering courses in IITs, NITs, and Centrally Funded Technical Institutions (CFTIs).
Archit, another aspirant, said, “Social distancing was maintained as there were only three candidates in my room. We were given a disinfectant. After the tickets were issued, I was sure the exams would take place.”
Chhaya Sharma, the mother of one candidate, said: “There have, of course, been fears of pulling out during the pandemic. We’ll be stepping out after almost four to five months.”
“I have a feeling that the students couldn’t prepare for the exam the way they wanted because the coaching centers were closed. In some ways we’re relieved that the exam finally took place today.”
The NTA takes several steps to safely conduct the critical test. This included increasing the number of exam centers, alternative seating plans, fewer candidates per room and staggered entrances and exits.
While the Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh governments have assured students that they will transport candidates, a group of IIT alumni and students have set up a portal to provide examination center transport for the candidates in need.
In the weeks leading up to the exam, the chorus grew to postpone JEE-Main and the NEET medical entrance exam due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases.
However, the Supreme Court rejected a motion to postpone the two exams, saying that a “precious year” of students cannot be wasted and that life must go on.
Based on the results of JEE Main Paper 1 and Paper 2, the best 2.45 lakh candidates can apply for the JEE Advanced, a one-stop exam for admission to the 23 leading Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs ).
JEE-Advanced will take place on September 27th.