Getting into one of the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) has been the dream of many students in India. With exponentially increasing competition year after year, it has become more challenging than ever to secure that coveted IIT tag. In this article, I’ll share my experiences and learnings on how to maximize your chances of an IIT admission through preparations, exam strategies, and some not-so-serious advice with a touch of humor. Let’s get started!
Start Preparing Early
The key to cracking any competitive exam is starting preparations well in advance. I vividly remember how during my 10th board exams, while other students were relaxing after the exams, I was already stressing about JEE preparations. My friends found me quite mad and jokingly started calling me “IITian” even before attempts. Little did they know that early preparations would actually work in my favor. I suggest starting your JEE preparation at least by 9th standard to get a head start. Some subjects like Physics and Chemistry require regular practice over long periods of time to master concepts and problem-solving techniques. An early start ensures you have time for multiple revisions as well.
Join a Coaching Institute
Most students who make it to the IITs attribute their success largely to guidance from good coaching institutes. Coaching provides structured learning along with regular tests and feedback on your performance. It also allows peer learning in a focused environment dedicated to JEE preparation. However, blindly relying on coaching is not advisable. You still need to put in sincere self-study and practice problems on your own. I personally benefited tremendously from a reputed coaching in my city that followed an excellent study plan and test series. The teachers meticulously tracked our progress and weaknesses to ensure we were on track to achieve our IIT dream. So doing proper research and opting for a good coaching is highly recommended.
Master the Syllabus
A key reason many students are unable to make the IIT cut is an inability to complete the vast JEE syllabus on time. When I started my preparations, the syllabus seemed enormous and impossible to cover. However, with disciplined planning and focused studying, I was able to complete the syllabus well before my exam attempts. I suggest tracking your daily/weekly progress and allocating suitable timelines to finish topics. Also, don’t lose heart if you’re unable to understand some concepts initially. With persistent practice and asking doubts to teachers, most topics will start making sense over time. Be patient with yourself and trust the process.
Take Notes Religiously
Notes are like a handy reference that you can revisit anytime during your preparations and while revising for exams. I used to make color-coded chapter-wise notes for all subjects, neatly organizing important formulae, definitions, case studies, derivations etc. This helped me revise better when exams neared. Taking thorough notes also forces you to comprehend concepts in your own words, helping retention. My batch topper friend shared his secret of revising notes before going to bed, which helped him remember most of it sub-consciously by the next day! Making comprehensive and organized notes is definitely worth the effort.
Solve a Ton of Problems
Solving a massive number of questions and practice papers is the sure-shot way to scoring well in JEE. Like they say, “practice makes man perfect”. The more varied questions you solve from all topics, the more confident you’ll feel in applying concepts during exams. Solving at least 10-15 questions daily from all chapters is a good benchmark.I also suggest participating in online question papers and mock tests provided by coaching institutes frequently. This exposes you to different question patterns and builds up your speed as well. Additionally, analyze your mistakes thoroughly to overcome weaknesses. With focused and consistent problem solving over a period of 2 years, scoring well in JEE becomes very much achievable.
Have a Healthy Lifestyle
JEE preparation can get extremely stressful and tiring at times. Hence, it’s important to maintain a balanced lifestyle keeping your mind and body healthy. As someone who missed many birthday parties and movie weekends for studies when I was prepping, I will surely advise taking time off for physical exercise, yoga, socializing occasionally and getting adequate sleep daily (at least 7-8 hours). This recharges you to get back to studies with more focus and energy. Studying for 16 hours straight may sound like an IITian thing to do but is definitely not recommended. A healthy lifestyle fueled by nutritious meals and rest not only helps your retention but also avoids burnout much needed for the long 2-year preparation period.
Deal with Distractions and Procrastination
When preparing for an exam as challenging as JEE, there will inevitably be days when you’ll feel like procrastinating or giving up entirely due to stress, mood swings or lack of motivation. That’s where self-discipline and time management come into play big time. Some distractions I vividly remember indulging in included binge-watching shows, constant social media scrolling, and endlessly surfing the internet under the pretext of “research”. To overcome this, I suggest having a strict daily schedule with dedicated time slots for studies and breaks. Fix targets and rewards to stay on track. Also, it really helps to find an accountability partner who motivates each other during low phases. With persistent efforts, you can train your brain to avoid distractions and ensure maximum focus on studies.
Have Backup Plans Ready
No matter how well you prepare, external factors beyond your control could impact your JEE performance on exam days. Hence, it is prudent to diversify and have effective backup plans in place. While aiming for IITs, I also applied to top NITs, IIITs and other prestigious engineering colleges through mechanisms like JoSAA Counselling and State Entrance Tests. This gave me options in case I didn’t crack my IIT target. I also considered preparing for Medical/Commerce stream entrance exams as a second option concurrently. This diversification and contingency planning really helped reduce my stress and anxiety levels during the intense exam phase. My suggestion would be to explore all possible avenues based on your interests and capabilities to maximize your chances of securing a good college admission.
Take Proper Rest Before Exams
Tiredness during exams can ruin your concentration and performance despite your best preparations. There is a common misconception among aspirants that burning midnight oil and last-minute revisions in the weeks leading up to exams will miraculously boost scores. However, in reality, it only leads to mental and physical exhaustion. To avoid this, I used to take it easy about a week before my exams by reducing my study hours and focusing on light revision activities. Getting sound 7-8 hours of sleep daily along with moderate physical activity helped me stay refreshed during exams. Proper pre-exam rest allows you to recall your preparations optimally in the pressure situations. Planning your final weeks smartly is as important as your 2-year preparation period for the big D-day!
Develop Positive Thinking
All the preparations, practice and strategies are futile if you don’t develop the right positive mindset to approach competitive exams like JEE confidently. Trusting your abilities and having faith in self despite setbacks is key. I distinctly remember going through bouts of self-doubt during finals due to tales of selection competition ratios shared by seniors. However, regular reassurance from coaching teachers and family empowered me to overcome negative thoughts with optimism before exams. On D-day, positive thinking and self-belief gave me the courage to attempt questions fearlessly according to my abilities. Developing a winning mindset through meditation, affirmations and surrounding yourself with encouraging people makes a big difference.
Use Effective Exam Strategies
Other than subject knowledge, acing competitive exams requires strategic time management and smart use of available resources. Here are some key strategies I followed during my JEE attempt to maximize scores:
- Skim through the entire question paper at first to get an idea of distribution before starting to solve. This removes surprises.
- Attempt questions you’re 100% sure of first to boost confidence before moving on to tougher ones.
- Attempt numerical questions requiring calculations before theory-based questions to avoid silly mistakes due to time pressure.
- Use elimination to narrow down options for tough Multiple Choice Questions(MCQs).
- Do not spend too long on any single question to avoid time crunch later. Skip difficult ones and come back to them if time permits.
- Double check numerical calculations by reworking them to avoid silly errors.
- Leave 10 minutes at the end to attempt skipped questions after first attempting the entire question paper.
Proper exam temperament and strategy plays a key role in maximizing your scores from your preparations. Strategizing smartly gave me the decisive edge I needed to achieve my IIT dream.
Stay Focused Amid Distractions
Studying for long hours with single-minded focus is easier said than done, especially considering the 24×7 distractions of the digital world we live in. Here are some tips that helped me stay focused on my preparation amid all kinds of distractions:
- Silence your phone: Switch to silent/do not disturb and keep it outside your study room. Out of sight, out of mind.
- Avoid non-academic websites: Sites like Facebook, YouTube, etc are big focus drainers. Use chrome extensions to block such distracting sites.
- **Study in a distraction-free
- Stay Focused Amid Distractions (continued)
- Study in a distraction-free zone: Designate a quiet, well-lit area of your home just for studying with no potential distractions around.
- Take micro breaks: Set a 25-minute focus timer and take a 5-minute break after each session to stay fresh without losing focus for long.
- Remove potential triggers: Put away distractions like your gaming console, TV remote or any other habit that may pull you away from studies.
- Find an accountability partner: Study with a friend who can keep you on track and vice versa through mutual accountability.
- Doodle-note important points: Light doodling while note-making improves focus and retention compared to straight copying.
- Listen to instrumental music: Study with distraction-free, upbeat instrumentals that set a productive mood without lyrics pulling attention.
- Keep tempo with the Pomodoro technique: Use the popular 25-5 minute focus-break cycle to maintain high productivity without burnout.
- With disciplined practices like these, you can stay laser-focused on your studies amid any environment. Let me know if any other tips would be helpful!
Master Shortcut Tricks and Formulas
Being fast and accurate in calculations is hugely advantageous during competitive exams with limited time. Hence, it’s important to identify and memorize shortcuts, approximation formulae, estimation techniques etc. for different topics in Physics, Chemistry and Maths. Some tricks I found really helpful include:
- Approximating trigonometric values like sin60°=√3/2
- Unitary method and guess-check for word problems
- Short tricks for integration, differentiation formulae
- Properties of triangles, circles, conic sections etc.
Regular practice is needed to master shortcuts fluently. My coaching teachers were very helpful in highlighting high-frequency shortcuts which certainly boosted my calculation speed.
Strengthen Conceptual Clarity
While problem-solving skills are crucial, exams also evaluate your fundamental understanding and conceptual grasp. To strengthen concepts, I used memory retention techniques like explaining topics to yourself aloud, drawing concept maps and relate examples. Teaching lessons to someone else especially helped me identify gaps and clarify misunderstandings. Regularly discussing concepts being learned with peers also strengthened my conceptual foundations for JEE. Rote learning formulas or derivations without understanding will not take you far.
Identify and Work on Weak Areas
No one is perfectly strong across subjects and topics. Identifying weak areas through tests and focusing more time on strengthening them is important. I realized Physical Chemistry was a difficult area for me, so I spent extra self-study hours on it regularly along with doubts clarification. Similarly, some chapters in Maths like 3D-Geometry required repetitive practice which I ensured. Working systematically on weaker areas I identified through my progress tracking and tests really paid off to bridge gaps. Don’t ignore weaknesses thinking you will manage.
Remain Calm Under Pressure
There is bound to be stress and anxiety during actual exams facing fierce competition. While it’s normal to feel nervous, allowing pressure to overwhelm you will be counterproductive. Some relaxation techniques I found helpful included deep breathing, visualization of positive outcomes and talking to trusted friends/family on exam eve. On exam days, reminding myself that I am well-prepared and just need to show my skills helped keep composure. Staying calm and focused is half the battle won, so develop mental resilience through various strategies.
Be Willing to Take Risks
No amount of preparation can cover everything, so it’s okay to take calculated risks to maximize scores. For instance, during my JEE attempts, when stuck on lengthy complex questions, I took an educated guess to not lose marks completely instead of skipping. Similarly, when unsure between two MCQ options, I went with my instinct instead of leaving blank. While risky, such an approach works out occasionally. Don’t play it completely safe, be willing to take risks within reason. After all, fortune favors the bold!
So in summary, start preparations early, join a good coaching, master the syllabus, solve tons of questions, strengthen concepts, work on weaknesses, take care of physical and mental fitness, stay focused, develop crucial exam temperament and most important – never lose hope. With dedicated hard work and right strategies over 2 years, achieving the IIT dream is very much possible. I wish you the very best in your JEE preparation journey. Feel free to reach out if any other doubts!
Remember – It’s Just Another Exam
Studying for JEE can take a huge emotional and psychological toll on you given the high stakes. There were times during my preparation when I’d get so stressed that even looking at a Physics formula would trigger an existential crisis! That’s why it’s important to not take yourself and the exam too seriously. Whenever I started feeling the pressure, I’d remind myself – “Dude chill, it’s just another school exam. You’ve given a hundred already!”. Taking the edge off the situation with some humor really helped reduced my anxiety. Laughter is truly the best medicine, so sprinkle in some lightheartedness whenever you start feeling stressed.
Fun Study Anecdotes for Motivation
Looking back, I have some hilarious memories from my JEE prep days that still crack me up. Like the time I almost dozed off during a Physics lecture and woke up to the teacher screaming “Are you even listening??” right in my ears! Or when I mixed up formulas during a test and wrote the velocity equation in place of Ohm’s law. Despite facepalming myself, these fun anecdotes actually end up motivating me. They remind me that setbacks are normal and as long as I didn’t give up, I would achieve my goals. I advise sharing such amusing study stories with friends to lighten the mood during stressful times. A good laugh works wonders to re-energize you for the grind.
Bribe Friends into Study Sessions
Getting friends involved in your JEE prep is a fun way to stay motivated. During my initial days, I had to literally bribe folks to sit with me and solve questions. “I’ll treat you to chaat if you solve 10 questions with me now”. Worked like a charm every time! We’d compete, pull each other’s legs and somehow the sessions felt more like gaming than studying. My friends still joke that I owe them a gazillion chaats! These entertaining study get-togethers made long hours fly by and fostered healthy competition to perform better. Try roping in buddies creatively for accountability while infusing humor to breeze through prep effectively.
Reward Yourself in Fun Ways
With back-breaking preparation comes the need for rewards to boost spirit. While my classmates would treat themselves to pizzas and movies post exams, I got creative with less extravagant prizes. For instance, after finishing an entire chapter’s problems – I’d watch 30 mins of funny videos. Every 100 questions solved deserved a round of online gaming for an hour. Petty? Maybe, but it worked wonders for my motivation levels. I look back and laugh at how optimizing even rewards into my schedule helped structure productivity with snippets of joy. So find quirky little rewards that work for you instead of run-of-the-mill options to make the grind more enjoyable.
I hope these personal anecdotes and tips enthused with humor and lightness help you prepare for JEE effectively while retaining sanity along the way! All the best with your exam preparation. Let me know if any other doubts or funny study stories to share.