Candidates appearing in NEET UG 2023 must fall within the specified criteria set by the exam conducting agency. One such criterion is the age limit. The NEET UG exam age limit is 17 years by 31st December 2023. This is the lower age limit. There is no upper age limit as of now. Does that mean one can appear in NEET UG exams as often as he wants?
There are controversies and differences in opinion regarding the favour and opposition of this decision. Let us find out how this decision was welcomed and what happened a few years back.
NEET UG 2023 Lower and Upper Age Limits
As per the specifications given by the National Testing Agency (NTA), a NEET aspirant must be 17 by the end of 2023. This is the lower NEET eligibility age that all candidates must fulfil. What is the upper age limit, then? Currently, there is no upper age limit for NEET UG aspirants. If anyone is 17 years, he can start appearing in this entrance exam every year until he seeks admission to a suitable medical college.
The overseeing undergraduate medical education board of the National Medical Commission (NMC) released an official letter mentioning that the upper age limit has been scrapped. Candidates will be allowed to take the NEET UG examination if he is 17 years or older. As of now, there is no upper age limit for NEET aspirants.
NEET UG Age Limit Controversies
Earlier also, there was no upper age limit levied on NEET aspirants. A NEET aspirant raised a concern in November 2017 that there should be a maximum age limit for NEET. Aspirants with advanced age will get more advantage over those appearing for the first time.
Based on this petition, the Department of Health and Family Welfare set an upper age limit for unreserved candidates up to 25 years. Aspirants aged 25+ will not be able to appear in this entrance exam. The reserved categories will get a relaxation based on age criteria.
Many NEET aspirants started protesting this decision. Most of them were aged more than 25 years. They found they could not appear in the NEET UG exam even if they have been preparing for a year. When the protest created a stir, the Supreme Court of India took the matter into its hand and directed the Medical Council of India to handle it. As per MCI’s quotes, new candidates, compared to the older candidates, are chosen for the course as they learn faster and tend to mould better during the medical courses.
The council also stated that the older candidates enjoy an extra edge in the competition over the new ones as they have been preparing for consecutive years for the same exam. The new candidates must handle the pressure of higher secondary exams and appear in NEET. Hence, the council validated the upper-age capping for NEET.
Supreme Court’s Decision for NEET UG Age Limit
Once the analysis was done and presented to the SCI, the judges made a decision. They found the demand and logic behind the upper age limit valid. Based on their judgement, the upper age cap was 25 years for NEET 2017 and onwards.
However, this decision was challenged in Delhi High Court in May 2018. A petition was submitted, and the age limit criteria for NEET got upheld. It was challenged again in November 2018. Upon careful analysis, the Supreme Court of India (SCI) permitted candidates to participate in NEET provisionally. However, this decision is still pending.
With such changes in the course of age criteria for NEET, we can depict that there are candidates who favour this decision of upholding the upper age limit and those who oppose it.
NEET UG Age Limit Current Condition
There still needs to be a solid decision by the judiciary board. As of now, the upper age limit for NEET has been upheld. Candidates of age 17 years and above can participate in the entrance exam. So, there is no upper NEET age limit for OBC, SC, ST and unreserved categories. If anyone wants to repeat participating in NEET, he can try as many times as he wants until there is a solid decision levied for the age limit.