Dr. Saif Khan Mohammed, Associate Professor - Electrical Engineering Dept, IIT Delhi shares important dos and don’ts as students across India prepare to take JEE 2017.
Q. JEE Mains 2017 is just around the corner. What should be the preparation strategy of students considering they also have to prepare for their Class 12th board exams during this period?
A. From January onwards, many IIT JEE aspirants devote very less time to their JEE preparation and significantly more time preparing for the class 12th board exams. Since the pattern of JEE is different from that of the board exams, this results in discontinuity in their JEE preparation. Due to this discontinuity, many students tend to forget the important concepts and problem solving methods, which are very crucial to achieving success in JEE.
Since JEE Mains 2017 is scheduled just after the board exams, the preparation strategy would be to keep continuity in the preparation, and focus on speed and accuracy. Even before and during the board exams, one should spend at least a few hours every day revisiting the important concepts, formulas and practising JEE problems. For practising, one should attempt to solve the old JEE papers. There is also an abundance of JEE preparation material (books).
Q. Is studying for 12th board exams enough to prepare aspirants for JEE Main and JEE Advanced 2017?
A. No, studying for the 12th board exams is definitely not enough to prepare for JEE Mains and Advanced. This is because the patterns of these exams are different. In the class 12th board exams, there is more emphasis on the derivation of theoretical results and simple application of concepts. In JEE, there is more emphasis on using analytical thinking to solve problems, which involve advanced application of concepts. However, students should not ignore their class 12th exams since a student appearing for JEE must have a good grasp on theory and basic fundamentals, which are covered comprehensively in the class 12th curriculum. This year, the class 12th marks will not be used for the ranking of students, but there is still a criterion of qualifying minimum marks that a JEE aspirant should obtain in his/her board exam so as to get admitted to the IITs/NITs and other universities where admission is based on the rank in JEE(Advanced)/JEE(Mains).
Q. According to you, which section among the three – Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics, in JEE is the most difficult and how should students prepare for it?
A. It is difficult to say which is the toughest, as it varies from student to student. In my opinion, most students do find Mathematics difficult, as there are many ways to solve a given problem. One must be careful of lengthy methods due to time constraints, and going for a shorter method would usually involve fewer calculations and also less chances of committing calculation mistakes. Mathematics needs lots of practise, so that a student is able to develop a sense of using methods, which are not lengthy.
Q. How important do you think are coaching centres when it comes to preparing for JEE?
A. Coaching centres are definitely good when it comes to preparing students for an exam like JEE. However, students become too much reliant on coaching classes and on the availability of material, which can be directly read and assimilated. Many students lose their ability to do self-study. In IITs, there is a lot of emphasis on self-study and in most courses the students are expected to devote 3 to 4 times more number of hours on self-study when compared to the number of lecture hours. In my opinion, this is one reason why many students who crack JEE, are unable to perform well when they get into IIT. Therefore, relying entirely on coaching institutes is not a good idea. A JEE aspirant should develop the ability to study and understand new and advanced topics on his/her own, with little help from teachers.
Q. Could you please elaborate on how should candidates handle mock test papers?
A. A JEE aspirant must attempt mock test papers regularly to correct his/her timing and accuracy. The mock test must be given in a time set manner and students must analyse the test outcome to assess his/her shortcomings. For example, there are specific types of problems where the student takes more time or commits silly mistakes like calculation errors. The student then needs to address these shortcomings and attempt another similar mock test after about a week. The mock tests must be taken seriously and should be attempted in one sitting, just as it happens during JEE.
Q. What are the common mistakes that students make while appearing for the examination and how should one avoid them?
A. Students should not be over confident, as there are times when a student sees an easy question but does not take it seriously and ends up making a calculation mistake. One important part is to read questions very carefully. After solving the question, one should read the question again to ensure that it has been answered correctly. Sometimes, underlining important parts of the question while reading can also help. The filling of the OMR sheet should not be left for the end, since there is very less time at the end of the exam. Students sometimes fill the OMR sheet incorrectly in a hurry. One option is to fill it once after every few questions. Also, one should not just give up on questions that appear to be tough. After having solved the questions where the student is more confident, he/she must try/attempt the remaining tough questions. Finally, students should always read the instructions carefully as there is negative marking in the JEE, and the pattern of negative marking can change from year to year.
Q. In cases, where students do not get admission in the desired course or college after cracking JEE, what should be the next steps for them?
A. If a student does not get admission in the course/college of his/her choice, life does not end there. One must move on and explore other options. One possibility is to study the same course from another college. After completing his/her Bachelor's degree from this college, one still has the option of doing postgraduate studies from IITs. Though in my personal opinion, an IIT education increases the chance of being professionally successful, it does not mean that a student without an IIT education cannot be professionally successful.
Q. What are the options available for candidates who clear JEE Mains, but not JEE Advanced? How should the candidates approach and go about those options?
A. A candidate must clear JEE Advanced for him/her to be admitted to the IITs. Candidates who clear JEE Mains but not JEE Advanced, can pursue the degree programmes of their choice from other good colleges and universities that use the JEE Mains rank for their admission process. These universities include the NITs, IIITs, and CFTIs. In such a case, the possibility of getting admission in a desired degree programme and university will depend on the all India rank achieved by the candidate in JEE Mains.
Q. Should a person drop a year for JEE preparation? Pls. elaborate.
A. A person need not drop a year for JEE preparation. The JEE preparation can be done along with the regular class 11th and 12th studies in school. A candidate should preferably start JEE preparation right after he/she has finished his/her class 10th examination, as this gives the candidate a lot of time to focus on JEE preparation.
In many cases, many students are unable to clear JEE in their first attempt. Such students find it difficult to decide between dropping out for a year and reappearing for JEE next year, or to get admitted to the best possible degree programme and university available to them. Students who are confident of improving their performance, or who for some reason could not prepare well for JEE can consider dropping out for a year and reappearing for JEE next year. Losing one year is not a big problem if one considers the long-term career prospects of IIT education.
Q. Any particular message for students taking JEE examination this year?
A. There's a popular saying that, “It's all in the mind.'' Indeed, for JEE also, if a candidate is confident and mentally tough, with proper preparation he/she should be able to crack JEE. Therefore, I would like to advise all students to have confidence in themselves, be relaxed during the exam and never think of the outcome.