How to prepare for Entrance Exams in India

I’ll spare you the lecture.

You already know that you have to make a study plan, work hard, manage time, keep your hands off social media, eat healthy, and exercise.

And that you should not sleep too little or too much, or you shouldn’t be watching TV or talking to friends or attending parties.

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Phew! Adults surely have a long list of advice for kids, don’t they?

I will come straight to the point and offer you actionable tips that you can use straight away:

Decide on a Career and Entrance Exam you’ll have to take

Some of the most popular entrance exams in India that you can take after Class 12 are:

  • Agriculture & Hotel Management: ICAR Entrance Exam, and NCHMCT JEE for entrance to Hotel Management programs
  • Engineering Entrance Exams: such as JEE Main and JEE Advanced, and BITSAT
  • Fashion & Design: NIFT, NID, and AIEED
  • Humanity & Social Sciences: Admission Tests for graduate programs offered by universities like JNU and BHU, and institutes like TISS
  • Law: CLAT, LSAT, AILET, and Lloyd Entrance Test
  • Marine, Navy, Defence: NDA, and entrance exams conducted by Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Maritime University
  • Mathematics: Admission Tests for Indian Statistical Institute, Chennai Mathematical Institute, BARC, Banasthali Vidyapith, and BHU UET
  • Medical: such as NEET-UG, AIIMS, and AFMC
  • Pure Science: KVPY, IISER, and NEST

Among Science students, IIT JEE and NEET exams are most popular – depending on whether you want to go for engineering (and have Physics, Chemistry, and Math in your qualifying exams) or medical (and have Physics, Chemistry, and Biology in your qualifying exams).

The study tips we’ll offer you here will serve all STEM students (students of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) well.

Start with NCERT books

The education boards across India are talking about standardization of education. NCERT books are accepted as the ideal books for any competitive exam you choose to take – after Class 12th or after graduation.

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You don’t have to buy them too. Find all NCERT books here for free. Science, SST and Math books for all classes are available in Hindi, English, and Urdu.

You can start your engineering or medical exam preparation with Science and Math books of Class VI and move on to Class XII books for smooth progression.

Use FREE apps and YouTube channels to study Science and Math

Many medical coaching institutes are launching their own YouTube channels and apps because they are so interactive, multimedia-friendly and can engage students better. Many of these have free and paid versions. Some of the top apps where most of the content is available for free are:

  • AIPMT Preparation and Coaching app by Meritnation
  • AskIITians - IIT JEE, NEET, SAT, CBSE, ICSE Prep app
  • Byju’s: The Learning App
  • Khan Academy app
  • Unacademy Learning App

These apps gamify education for school students, including engineering and medical aspirants. You get high-quality video lectures here along with hundreds of practice questions. You can take topic-based tests, chapter-based tests, unit-based tests, subject-based tests, and full-length mock tests on these apps or online sites and track your progress.

I would suggest you read a topic from an NCERT book and then, watch the corresponding video online or on YouTube or through various apps. Take practice tests and check whether you’ve understood a topic or not.

If you’ve not understood a concept, go back and revise.

Use Online Labs

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology brings a fantastic website called Online Labs, which hosts Physics, Chemistry, and Biology experiments for classes 9-12. It has English and Math lessons for classes 9 and 10 too.

The web content is aligned to NCERT, CBSE, and state board syllabi. Here, students can perform, learn, and record experiments digitally - optimizing the resources available to them.

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Source: Olabs

Conducting experiments is crucial to clarify certain scientific concepts that are difficult to understand otherwise.

PhET and Bloomboard are other simulation applications Science students may use. Bloomboard is an excellent resource for those who can afford VR headsets – for it offers you to conduct experiments in virtual reality labs. However, only a minuscule percentage of students in India have access to these facilities at present.

If you are a Humanities student, you can still use sites and apps like Google Earth, NASA, National Geographic, etc. to go on virtual tours, explore history and geography like a true explorer.

Solve full-length Sample Papers

Most engineering coaching and medical coaching institutes run an All India Test Series where they offer full-length mock tests and sample papers for IIT JEE or NEET. These tests include questions from previous years’ question JEE or NEET papers as well as questions contributed by some of their best faculties.

Many students prefer to take online test series because it allows them to practice for entrance exams that are conducted in the online mode or the Computer Based Test (CBT) mode.

Here’s a secret:

The grapevine says that the newly formed National Testing Agency (NTA) will take over the responsibility of conducting entrance exams in India from the CBSE from 2019. It is also said that like JEE exams, NEET will be held online too – twice a year.

It is thus natural that online NEET preparation or online JEE preparation will give you an edge over your peers from the next year onwards.

There is another advantage of going for online test series. Since students across India (and many aspirants from abroad) opt for them, you get an AIR (All Indian Rank) which gives you a rough idea of where you stand among your peers – at any given moment.

They also over you detailed performance report which highlights your strong and weak points, and includes recommendations which can help you strategize your IIT JEE preparation or NEET preparation better.

In the end, have fun. If you are not enjoying your studies, you might be suffering from:

  • Peer, parental, or societal pressure to follow a career you are not passionate about, or
  • The academic stress of performing well – which might be interfering with your ability to grasp the concepts and remember formulas and facts for a long time.

In either case, you should seek the help of qualified tutors and counselors who can help you survive and thrive your entrance exam preparation phase despite all the competition.