Even though more girls cleared the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test than boys, there has been a sharp decline of 8.01% in the attendance of female candidates this year compared to last year, according to the data provided by the National Testing Agency. While the overall attendance rate fell from 92.85% to 85.57%, the gender break-up shows that the decline for girls is steeper. Girls have registered higher attendance than boys in the previous years but fell behind for the first time in 4 years. While it is easy to argue that lesser number of girls appeared for the test this year due to the covid pandemic, a senior official at the NTA suggested that perhaps the drop in attendance is because students who failed the Board exam did not appear for NEET, as this year the test was held after the Board results were announced. The National Eligibility cum Entrance test was conducted in September amid mass uproar from students, teachers, parents, academics and several political parties. They argued for a postponement of the exam in light of the covid pandemic but it was held as scheduled after Supreme Court dismissed all petitions for the delay.