Students across India, who are currently in their final year of school, appear for various entrance tests – both technical and otherwise, to get admission in some of the premier institutes of the country. Entrance exams like IIT-JEE or (erstwhile) AIPMT are considered as technical entrance exams. They test your knowledge in specific subjects like Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Biology. On the other hand, we have General Aptitude Entrance Exams for securing admission in various courses like Law, Management, Hotel Management, Mass Communication and Liberal Studies, to name a few.
Here, I am going to talk about some general tips while preparing for the non-technical entrance exams. With my experience in coaching for entrance exams for Law (CLAT, AILET, SET, LSAT…), Management (SET, UGAT…), Hotel Management (IHM JEE) and Liberal Studies (PDPU Entrance test), I have realized that there are some general preparation techniques which can assist students in their preparation for such exams.
1. Know the exam
It is extremely essential to know the details of the entrance exam that one is preparing for. While this may seem obvious, I have come across numerous students who are clueless when it comes to detailed information regarding basic elements like the syllabus, marking scheme, required scores, etc. Complete information about exams is generally available on the official website of the particular exam / institute. Make it a point to get all relevant details from such official sources. Do NOT rely on second hand information through general websites. Make it a point to read EVERY piece of information that is put on the official websites.
2. Know the trends
One of the best ways to start preparing for any exam is to know the paper pattern (if available), to know the syllabus (if available) and then to go through the actual past papers of the exam (if available). This helps students to understand the type of questions that can reasonably be expected. However, it is essential that the student keep a sharp lookout for any changes that may have taken place in the patterns. For e.g., there is no set pattern for the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT). So, while students would do well to check the past year papers to get a general idea of what to expect, they should be prepared for the unexpected.
3. Have a strategy
Some examinations test the student on their content; some test them on practical application of concepts while others test students on their ability to answer the maximum number of questions (sometimes of a very basic nature) in a fixed amount of time. Identify what kind of paper one is going to attempt. For e.g., the CLAT is a speed-cum-conceptual knowledge game. Is the student required to score a particular score (called a cutoff score) in every section to qualify, or is the overall score, the only one, that matters? Is special importance given to any specific section? For e.g., the CLAT takes the overall score into consideration, with no special emphasis on individual sectional scores. However, in case of a tie, the score of the Legal section is used as a tie-breaker. So, the CLAT aspirant is required to spare some special attention for this section.
Once, the syllabus and the paper pattern are known, the student is required to prepare a game plan (also known as strategy) for cracking the exam. Which sections should I spend more time on? If possible, which section should I start with? How much time can I allocate to the different sections? Should I start with an easy section? Should I start with a difficult one? Should I complete an entire section before moving on the next, or should I attempt every section in bits and parts? An excellent way to decide on a strategy is to attempt a lot of practice papers using different game plans. The one that consistently works for me in a positive way is the one that I will use on the D-Day.
4. Mental preparation matters
My preparation can be excellent. However, on the day of the actual exam, there are multiple factors which decide the outcome of my performance. Not only does the student require preparation in terms of the subject matter, but he/she is also required to be mentally up for the task. A lot of students have buckled under mental pressure (some call it the exam jitters) and have failed to clear a test, which ordinarily, they should have no problem in clearing.
5. Have a ‘can do’ attitude
The ‘can do’ attitude plays a huge role in determining the outcome. I have seen students praying for an easy paper. However, in my experience, it is the difficult paper which works in favour of the well-prepared candidate. Any student, irrespective of preparation, can do well on an easy paper. However, a tough one eliminates the unprepared candidates and lowers the cutoff score in favour of the prepared student. So, in case, the exam paper turns out to be tough, it is the mentally strong student who cracks it. He/She does not succumb to the pressure created by a tough paper and realizes quickly that, if it is tough for me, so is it for the other candidates. I only need to perform better than the other candidates!
All said and done, General Aptitude Entrance Exams are not tough at all. With the right kind of preparation and mentoring, even a (so-called) average student (as far as academics are concerned) can easily crack it.
I hope this post helps you start your preparation for different entrance exams. Do keep following us to get more such tips and tricks.
Wish you all the best!
Co-Founder, iQue Ideas