The National Testing Agency (NTA) refused to reschedule the tests in spite widespread opposition from students and activists who demanded that such a large-scale operation should not be allowed as infections continue to spiral.
India has registered more than 3.6 million cases so far, recording the world’s highest daily totals in recent days.
Students, many accompanied by their parents, turned up at test centres across India wearing face masks and gloves and carrying hand sanitiser.
Federal Education Minister Ramesh Nishank said strict distancing and safety protocols would be maintained at the centres, where the exam will be conducted in shifts.
Exams for engineering colleges from Sept. 1 to 6 and for medical courses on Sept. 13 were cleared by the Supreme Court after it rejected a petition to postpone the tests.
In interviews with domestic media, students expressed concerns over the exam posing health risks and availability of transport to the centres.
Many said the exam, postponed twice since April, had to be held as it was crucial for their future.
India, which introduced one of the world’s most stringent lockdowns on March 25, has been gradually lifting measures since mid-May, with domestic flights and train services resuming and offices and markets reopening.
Schools and colleges remain closed and public transport is restricted, along with inter-state travel. (dpa/NAN)