How time flies! We are now rapidly approaching the half-way point of the year, dreaded by many to be the time when one should start worrying about exams, no matter whether they plan to give it this year or the next one. Class 10 or the CAT, everyone wants easy, and quick access to cheap learning resources and materials, mainly in the form of books and online coaching. After all, not many in India have the means to spend a fortune of time and money on education.
So, what are some of the examinations that prospective students should be looking out for this year? Let’s have a look at some of the big shots.
1. Joint Entrance Examination (JEE): JEE is a national-level engineering entrance exam conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) for admission into undergraduate engineering programs in prestigious institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), National Institutes of Technology (NITs), and other centrally funded technical institutes. This paper is held in two sessions, so students can learn from their mistakes the first time. The first session is conducted in January, with the second one in April.
2. National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET): NEET is a national-level medical entrance exam conducted by the National Testing Agency (NTA) for admission into undergraduate medical, dental, and related programs in India. NEET is the sole entrance exam for admission to medical and dental colleges, including government, private, and deemed universities. It's going to be held on May 23 this year and most likely also the next one.
3. Common Admission Test (CAT): CAT is a national-level management entrance exam conducted by the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) for admission into postgraduate management programs, such as Master of Business Administration (MBA), in various management institutes across India. CAT has been scheduled to be held on 26 November this year.
4. Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE): GATE is a national-level entrance exam conducted jointly by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and seven Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) on behalf of the National Coordination Board (NCB) for admission into postgraduate engineering programs, as well as for recruitment in public sector undertakings (PSUs) and research organizations. The GATE exam is usually held in February each year.
5. All India Law Entrance Test (AILET): AILET is a national-level entrance exam conducted by the National Law University (NLU), Delhi, for admission into undergraduate and postgraduate law programs offered by the NLUs and other law schools in India. The AILET test is held in December every year, for admission in the following year.
6. State-Level Entrance Exams: Many states in India conduct their own entrance exams for admission into state universities, colleges, and professional programs such as engineering, medicine, law, and management. Some examples include the Maharashtra Common Entrance Test (MHT-CET), Karnataka Common Entrance Test (KCET), Tamil Nadu Common Entrance Test (TANCET), and West Bengal Joint Entrance Examination (WBJEE), among others.
It’s not unheard for students to miss the registration deadlines for these exams, since there are so many of them, and there is the fact that dates for registrations change nearly every year. If one’s not careful, they may end up wasting a lot of time, or going to a college that they don’t like. Instead of posting information that may change at any time, I will instead suggest a few steps you can take to prevent any accidents:
1. Most registrations for postgraduate programs start in the second half of the year. Usually, the time window is between August-November, like in the case of AILET and CAT.
2. Most registrations for undergraduate programs start in the first half of the year. NEET, JEE and many other entrance examinations have their registration windows open a couple of months before the exam itself.
3. Always keep an eye on the news for the exam you’re interested in. Anything might happen, like COVID-19, to change the dates of these exams. So, if you’re planning to give NEET, take note of any news related to date changes for it.
There is no set-in-stone way for students to sure-fire crack their exams. if you’re disciplined enough, less conventional strategies can get you good results. Keeping that in mind, let’s look at some pathways:
1. Offline coaching: The most common form of preparation, students take additional after-school classes to prepare for a specific exam, like CAT, NEET, JEE, etc. This method is best for students who excel in the environment of the classroom. The downsides to this include the commute time and a crowded classroom, which may be counter-intuitive for some people. It’s also pretty costly.
2. Self-study: It involves preparing on your own. Taking this route requires a modicum of self-discipline, but it’s entirely possible to crack entrance exams if you stick to a basic schedule. There won’t be any time wasted with commute, and you can choose to focus on the areas that you feel you need preparation for, instead of going by the coaching schedule.
3. Online coaching: Combining the best of both worlds, it negates the commute time and the distracting classrooms of coaching centres. It also doesn’t require as much discipline as self-study, as you will be guided along the way by your tutors.
Now, let’s look at some ways to get resources:
1. Bookstores: The most conventional form, but it has lost its lustre due to the advent of online stores.
2. Online stores: Sites like Amazon and Flipkart will usually have the exact book you need. However, discounts on these books are rare, so it may be too costly for some.
3. Second-hand: This is the cheapest way to get materials, at the expense of quality. These exist both online and offline. Online sites for second-hand books include Nogozo and OLX. You can also ask your seniors or friends for any material that they don’t need.