From JEE Main To NEET, How Entrance Exam Patterns Changed In 2021

From an increase in the number of attempts in the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE Main) to the introduction of more regional languages in the medical entrance exam (NEET), the year saw major changes in the entrance examinations. The COVID-19 pandemic forced still more changes, in exam mode, paper pattern and syllabus, in exams across education levels and disciplines. Not only JEE Main, NEET, significant changes were made in other entrance exams like GATE for postgraduate engineering and CLAT for undergraduate law as well.

Entrances like JEE Advanced and CLAT will see modifications from the coming years, the IIT-JEE syllabus will change from 2023, and will be aligned to CBSE and JEE Main exam, while CLAT will be held twice from 2022.

JEE Main To NEET; Here Are Changes In Entrance Exams Pattern

JEE Main- The engineering entrance exam (JEE Main 2021) paper pattern, including the cut-offs to appear for JEE Advanced has significantly been changed over the years. This year, two more attempts in JEE Main were increased, while earlier, it was held only in two sessions. JEE Main was held in four sessions (February, March, April and May) in 2021, and the paper pattern was also changed.

JEE Main 2021 paper was altered to Section A and B for each subject, and the question pattern changed significantly. Swaati Jain, Editorial Director, Oswaal Books said, "NTA has been conducting the exam for the past seven years, and the pattern was set at 30 questions each topic till 2020. As per the new paper pattern, in Section A, candidates must attend all the questions whereas in Section B, out of 15 questions, candidates can attempt any 10 questions of their choice."

Ashish Gambhir, Director Coaching Federation of India (CFI), shared that the National Testing Agency (NTA) made a few modifications in the exam pattern for JEE Main, and this year, NTA has introduced many crucial changes in the pattern. “There will be four sessions of Paper 1, and earlier, it was just two sessions. They will be held in February, March, April, and May. The paper will have 90 questions, out of which 20 will be asked in Section A and 10 in Section B, each for Physics, Chemistry and Math. Paper 2A is only set for B.Arch courses and will have 82 questions, out of which students can attempt only 77 questions (Math - 25, Aptitude- 50, Drawing- 25). They will be graded out of 400 for this paper. Lastly, Paper 2B will have 105 questions, and students can attempt 100 of them to get their grades out of 400 marks. For Paper 2A and Paper 2B, candidates can answer any 5 out of the 10 questions in the numerical value-based part in the Mathematics section.”

The analysis of JEE cut-off shows that there was a decrease in cut off for the General category in 2021 from that of 2020. "With several changes in pattern of the exam in the last few years the cut-offs to qualify in JEE Advanced as well as admission to the participating Institutes have changed phenomenally over the years," said Ramesh Batlish, Head-FIITJEE, Noida.

NEET- The medical entrance exam (NEET 2021) saw slight changes in 2021, with introduction of two more regional languages- Punjabi and Malayalam, and modification in paper pattern. The medical aspirants who took NEET in 2021 got more multiple choice questions (MCQs)- 200 MCQs, however it was 180 MCQs, as per the previous paper pattern. Also, the Punjabi and Malayalam-speaking candidates got an opportunity to give medical entrance in their own vernaculars, making NEET available in 13 multiple languages with existing Hindi, Assamese, Bengali, Odia, Gujarati, Marathi, Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, Urdu and English.

Anurag Tiwari, National Academic Director, Aakash Educational Services Limited said, "Earlier, students had to attempt 180 questions in three hours, but this year candidates were given more flexibility while attempting questions. With a total of 200 questions, candidates had 20 extra questions to choose from. A total of 50 questions were asked in the four subjects – Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Botany. Section A had 35 questions which were mandatory to answer and out of fifteen questions in Section B, students could answer only 10 questions. The question paper was similar to previous years and all questions were from the NCERT syllabus. This new pattern of attempting questions will help students improve their scores in the future."

Meanwhile, the impending outrage on NEET in Tamil Nadu forced the DMK government to pass a bill scrapping the medical entrance in the state. As per the bill, the students can take admissions in the state medical colleges on the basis of marks obtained in class 12 or plus, and not required to take NEET. However, the law will come into effect with Presidential assent as it attempts to bypass a central law. The Maharashtra government is planning to follow Tamil Nadu in scrapping NEET in the state.

GATE- The Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE)- the engineering entrance which opens doors for admission into the Masters programme and job in Public Sector Undertaking Companies (PSU) saw a major change from eligibility criteria to paper pattern this year. GATE, for the first time allowed undergraduate candidates from Arts, Commerce, Medical stream to take the engineering entrance, in addition to existing candidates from Engineering and Science. Deepankar Choudhury, Organising Chairman of GATE 2021 said, "Apart from the inclusion for other stream students, third year undergraduate (UG) students were allowed to appear for the examination, which has been re-started after a gap of about 10 years."

Also, for the first time, non-engineering and non-science subjects were introduced in the GATE exam- Humanities and Social Sciences with sub-sections (a) Economics, (b) English, (c) Linguistics, (d) Philosophy, (e) Psychology, and (f) Sociology. "A large number of candidates registered for the Humanities and Social Sciences paper in GATE 2021 in it’s first year of starting shows the interests of candidates," the IIT-Bombay professor said. Another new paper (subject) on “Environmental Science and Engineering (ES)” was introduced in GATE 2021.

The candidates were also allowed to appear for more than one (maximum two papers from a given set of combinations of papers) as per their choices in the engineering entrance. "New type Multiple Select Questions (MSQ) were introduced for the first time in the GATE system where more than correct answers were possible for a particular question in a few subjects," he said.

There were slew of measures taken in the engineering entrance to prevent the malpractice of copying. According to Deepankar Choudhury, "The encrypted candidate specific security measures were added in both the admit cards and the scorecards of GATE 2021, including capturing of photos of all candidates in the exam hall for the first time in GATE system, which ensured to avoid impersonation or easily traceable issues of faking these important documents."

Several new cities, mainly from small towns, were selected for the first time in the GATE system to facilitate the movement of candidates from smaller towns/cities to appear for the exam easily during the ongoing pandemic situation. "Attendance in such new centres in smaller towns are mostly found to be relatively high compared to many existing centres," the IIT-Bombay professor said.

CLAT- The Common Law Admission Test Master of Laws (CLAT LLM) exam pattern has been changed this year. A subjective section in the postgraduate law entrance examination has been added this year. CNLU has also introduced cut-off marks in the CLAT LLM 2021 objective section. The new subjective section will only be evaluated if the law candidates score above the cutoff marks in the objective section.

CLAT UG 2021 Paper Pattern

The CLAT UG paper for law has five sections- Verbal Ability, General Knowledge and Current Affairs, Legal Reasoning, Logical Reasoning and Quantitative Aptitude comprising comprehension-based questions. Each section may have four to five comprehension passages followed by a set of multiple choice questions. The duration of the exam is two hours.

CLAT PG Paper Pattern 2021

The CLAT PG paper will comprise two sections- Objective and Subjective. The CLAT PG objective section will consist of 100 multiple choice questions of one mark each. The questions are expected to test critical thinking and legal aptitude of the candidates. The subjective section which has been reintroduced this year will test the writing skills of the candidates. It will be an essay-based long answer questions-based format section. The topics can range from current legal affairs to general affairs.

From 2022, the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) will have significant changes in the mode of exam. The National Law Universities (NLUs) will conduct the law entrance in May and another one in December. The counselling fee has also been revised, for general category the revised fee will be Rs 30,000, earlier it was Rs 50,000. For reserved category candidates, the fee will be Rs 20,000.

Common Admission Test

The Common Admission Test (CAT 2021) exam format remains the same as last year. Last year, there were changes made in mode of management entrance, the duration of the exam reduced to 120 minutes from 180 minutes, and there were two slots instead of three.

Talking about the changed paper pattern, Prof. Sandhya Bhatia, Faculty, Finance and Accounting, IIM Udaipur said, "COVID-19 has accelerated transformation in many fields, including in the competitive exams held every year. The Common Admission Test (CAT), taken by students aspiring for admissions in top-tier management institutes like IIMs, has also been changed to lessen the pressure on students appearing for the test. The two-hour duration exam with 66 questions across all three sections, Quantitative Ability (QA), Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), and Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), is the major basis for admissions. Understanding and adapting to the changed pattern would help students prepare well for it. The changes will also assist the candidates in completing the exam in the given time."

CAT has three sections- Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension (VARC), Quantitative Ability (QA), and Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning (DILR), and the candidates are given 40 minutes to attempt each section. The management entrance is being held in online mode.

JEE Advanced

The IIT-JEE (JEE Advanced) syllabus is going to change from 2023, as recommended by the exam conducting body. "The upcoming JEE Advanced syllabus is more aligned to CBSE board and JEE Main exams. Meanwhile, aspirants of JEE Advanced 2022 need not worry as no changes have been announced for them," said Ramesh Batlish, Head-FIITJEE, Noida

JEE Advanced 2023: Check subject-wise chapters


Included now: The additions include surface tension of water by capillary method, forced & damped oscillations, Keplar’s laws, geostationary orbits, modulus of rigidity, the second law of thermodynamics, Carnot engine, electromagnetic waves, diffraction and polarisation.

No Topic has been removed.


Included now: Topic on maltose, lactose, anomers in Biomolecules, fuel cells, primary & secondary batteries and corrosion in Electrochemistry, Freundlich adsorption isotherm in surface chemistry, catalysis, homogeneous/heterogeneous catalyst, and selectivity of solid catalyst, enzyme catalysis and mechanism in chemical kinetics, environmental chemistry and chemistry in everyday life. Heat capacity in Thermodynamics. Application of Solubility Product in Ionic Equilibrium.

Removed: The topic of nuclear chemistry has been removed.


Included now: Statistics, Set and Relations, Fundamental Theory of Algebra in Quadratic Equations.

Removed: Solution of Triangles and Harmonic progression.

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