Sunday, July 17, 2016

A NEAT PERSPECTIVE ON THE NEET TANGLE

WHAT HAPPENED ?
 
In 2010, the Board of Governors of Medical Council of India (MCI) proposed that a Single National Medical Entrance exam called NEET for all Medical colleges in India must be implemented across the nation. However, the decision was challenged by Private Medical colleges by filing over a 100 petitions in various High Courts of the country. The matter was combined into one unified petition and was adjudicated by the Supreme Court in July 2013. The NEET exam was struck down by the Supreme Court on July 28, 2013 in a 2:1 split judgement citing the reason that though NEET was good in intent, the MCI constitution did not empower it to conduct Entrance exams. Hence, NEET was not conducted in 2014 and 2015 and admissions to Medical colleges were done on the basis of various CETs and AIPMT exam.
 
However in a dramatic turn of events, the NEET was reinstated by a 5-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Dave on April 11, 2016. The Supreme Court ruled that NEET exam shall be the Single National Medical Entrance exam for all Medical colleges in India including Government, Private and Deemed Universities. Only 2 Medical Colleges were exempted from NEET-UG viz. AIIMS and JIPMER. The Supreme Court stated that NEET would streamline the Medical Admissions process, eliminate corruption & high capitation fees culture and save students the labour of writing multiple Entrance Tests. The Supreme Court also clarified that constitutional, regional and minority quotas will remain unchanged and the only change introduced is that NEET exam shall replace all other existing exams.
 
Between April 11 to 27, 2016 everyone assumed that the NEET ruling was valid from 2017 onwards. However, a clarification was issued by the Supreme Court on April 28 stating that NEET exam must be implemented from 2016 itself.  This clarification came as a shock to lacs of medical aspirants, their parents and teachers across the nation as students had prepared for State-level CETs whose syllabi, exam pattern and level of difficulty are significantly lower than the NEET exam.
 
The emotional and mental turmoil that students and parents were facing was reflected in street protests and numerous headlines and media debates and reports across the nation. The broad theme of the protests was that NEET was a welcome move but ill-timed. There would not have been any hue n cry due to this decision if the NEET decision were to be implemented from 2017 onwards. But this decision to implement NEET from 2016 meant that students in States like Maharashtra, Gujarat etc. who had prepared for State-CETs for 2-years and were to appear for the CET exam were suddenly told that the State-CET would be null and void. Instead, they would have to appear for NEET exam to be held 2.5 months later on July 24, 2016. The burden to prepare for NEET in 2.5 months was too much for these students as the difference between the State-CETs syllabi and NEET takes over a year to cover. Coaching classes were puzzled too and so were the State Governments over the decision.
 
All attempts made by various petitioners to modify the April 28 order were quashed by the Apex Court. In this background, a concerted effort was taken by several media groups like Lokmat, Times of India, Indian Express, Sakaal etc. in Maharashtra with the backing of educationists (of which I too was a part), parents bodies and teachers and also political parties to create a pressure group on the State & Union Government to defer implementation of NEET by a year. This was a sensible campaign to relieve the undue stress on students appearing for 2016 medical entrance exams. A good idea must be implemented at the right time. If it is implemented at a wrong time, there are possibilities of the baby being thrown out along with the bath water due to the consequent opposition.
 
The State Governments held meetings with the Union Health Ministry and on May-20, 2016 the Union Government promulgated an Ordinance to defer implementation of NEET for admission to Government Medical colleges to 2017 onwards. However, admission to Private Medical colleges and Deemed Universities was to be on the basis of NEET only for 2016 as well. This was a welcome move by the Union Government to provide relief to lacs of Medical aspirants from States like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Punjab etc.
 
In another sensational turn of events, the NEET Ordinance was challenged in the Supreme court on May 24 by the original petitioner, an NGO called Sankalp Charitable Trust. The Supreme Court accepted the challenge petition but refused to stay the NEET Ordinance on July-14. The Supreme Court however rapped the Union Government for issuing an Ordinance which went against the Supreme Court ruling of April 28. The Apex court said the Ordinance was in bad taste and was not on sound legal ground but in order to prevent further chaos to students, the Apex Court wisely chose to not stay the Ordinance.  This final judgement from the Supreme Court completes the tumultuous drama over NEET which was triggered by the April 11 judgment.
 
In many of my articles on this blog, I have argued strongly for the implementation of NEET across all Medical colleges in India. However, as events unfolded between April 28 and May 20, various voices and opinions by teachers, parents and eminent personalities were audible thanks to different media outlets of which many of them opposed NEET not just from 2016 but from 2017 onwards as well. The arguments used by them to oppose NEET from 2017 onwards must be analysed and rebutted if found specious. The remaining part of this article is dedicated towards this end alone !

WHO OPPOSES NEET from 2017 onwards?
 
There are 3 principal groups in society which oppose NEET from 2017 as under :
 
1. Private Medical Colleges : NEET lends transparency to the admission process and monitoring by Government agencies which prohibits Medical colleges from earning exorbitant capitation fees. The modus operandi of Private Medical colleges was to conduct a dubious Entrance Test which could be easily manipulated. Students were deliberately failed and vacancies created in Merit quota which were transferred to Management quota. Capitation fees can be legally charged from any student applying for Management quota. As per estimates published by some media outlets, about Rs. 25000 crores in capitation fees exchange hands for Private Medical college admissions every year.   The introduction of NEET has ruffled their feathers and they are opposing the decision tooth and nail.
 
2. Coaching Classes & teachers who are NOT capable of teaching for NEET :   A majority of teachers in the coaching circuit in States like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Orissa, Assam, Karnataka etc. are not comfortable teaching the NEET syllabi. Their expertise and experience lies in coaching students at the level of State-level CETs or XII Boards only.  The introduction of NEET has placed these teachers in an awkward position and naturally they are opposing NEET strongly often by pushing students and parents to speak out. Essentially, their strategy is to shoot from the shoulders of Parents and Students. Instead of taking up this as an opportunity to upgrade themselves, these teachers choose to oppose NEET and wish to perpetuate the pre-2016 status quo of State-level CETs for Medical admissions.
 
3. Lazy students : It is a fact that out of about 12 lakh Medical aspirants in the nation, barely 50000 secure a Medical seat. This means a mere 4% students secure a MBBS seat every year. Those who secure a seat are no doubt intelligent and hard working students. There are atleast 2 lac more students who too were hardworking but could not perform on the day of the exam and hence lost out. Please note that the remaining 9.5 lakh students were the insincere students who may or may not be intelligent but certainly lacked the key elements of sincerity and hard work during the 2 crucial years of their preparation. As you can see clearly, 4 out of every 5 medical aspirants is in the lazy students category. And let me tell you as someone well-entrenched in the coaching circuit, even this is an extremely optimistic estimate. Now, lazy students are bound to oppose any exam like NEET which has a greater syllabus, higher level of difficulty of questions and a tougher exam pattern.

As you can see, all the 3 groups above have vested interests and must be ignored. They do not realise the long-term implications of NEET on the overall health sector of the nation. They are only concerned with their short-term selfish interests. Hence, their opposition must fall on deaf ears. Supreme Court deserves praise for doing exactly that !!!
 
Now let us examine some arguments employed against NEET by different personalities who are apparently not part of the above 3 groups.
 
SPECIOUS ARGUMENTS often employed against NEET :
 
1. Rural – Urban inequality :
 
Argument :  If NEET is introduced, urban students shall gain an unfair advantage over rural students as urban students have access to quality coaching whereas rural or poor students do not.
 
Rebuttal : When MHT-CET was prevalent from 1999-2016, most of the Top performers who secured admissions in GMCs were from urban non-poor backgrounds who had access to quality coaching.  Even for MHT-CET, quality coaching is available in select cities and towns of Maharashtra and not in rural areas. The fees for MHT-CET coaching is also not affordable to poor students. So there is no argument against NEET as the status-quo does not change.

2. Vernacular students suffer :
 
Argument :  NEET is in English and Hindi language only whereas State-level CETs are in local languages too.  Hence, students studying in vernacular medium shall suffer due to introduction of NEET.
 
Rebuttal :  It is not difficult for CBSE to set NEET papers in vernacular medium too. Having said that, it must be understood that all Medical Education after Std.12 in MBBS / BDS courses is in English medium only. Hence, a reasonable proficiency in English language must be checked at the Entrance exam level. Since there is no separate English section in any Medical Entrance exam, the language of the exam being English is good enough.

3. CBSE gains :
 
Argument :  NEET is based on CBSE syllabus and hence CBSE students shall gain a competitive advantage over State Boards students if NEET is introduced.
 
Rebuttal :  Questions asked in NEET are not directly from the NCERT text books but need application of the concepts. That needs special coaching and a different approach which no college going student develops. A CBSE student is no better position therefore than a State Boards student. To prepare for NEET, a student needs to take specialised coaching from experts and only the intelligent and hardworking student excels. The performance has little or nothing to do with what Boards the student is studying in.

4. State students lose out :
 
Argument :  By introduction of NEET, the students of a particular State will suffer. Students of other States with better NEET scores will occupy seats in Medical colleges of that State. This is gross injustice on State students. (This argument has lead to mass protests orchestrated by various regional political parties in many states of India especially in TN, Pondicherry etc.
 
Rebuttal : Admissions to Medical colleges of a particular State happen on the basis of fixed quotas reserved for State students and out-of-State students. There is a 85% State quota in Government Medical Colleges and 65% State quota in Private Medical Colleges. These State quota seats are only for students of that State and no outside State student is given that seat. The introduction of NEET does not disturb the quota system (based on constitutional, State, regional, girls etc.) at all. Only the exam has changed. It was earlier a State-level CET and now it is NEET. So the argument that State students shall lose out due to NEET is baseless.

Thus, there is no sane reason to oppose NEET. From 2017, the Supreme Court has made NEET compulsory for all the Medical colleges in India except AIIMS and JIPMER. Students must take cognizance of this phenomenal change in Medical Entrance rules and prepare for NEET properly by taking professional coaching for the same.
 
The uncertainty over NEET is over. The time to prepare for NEET neatly is now.

Friday, June 10, 2016

ONE NATION – ONE SYLLABUS – ONE TEXT BOOK !

The recent NEET controversy has triggered an extremely important nation-wide discussion on syllabus differences between several Boards and the urgent need to uniform the syllabus of all different Boards of the nation. There are 27 different Boards in India today for higher secondary courses and each Board has a different syllabus, text book and exam system. 
 
The subject of Education is in the Concurrent List and hence both the Union Government and State Government are stakeholders in framing various policies pertaining to Education sector. Due to the advent of Entrance Exams for professional courses made compulsory by a Supreme Court ruling of October 2004, various Common Entrance Tests (CETs) at State and National level started for all professional courses in India.
 
In the past 5 years however, there have been attempts made by the Union Government to replace multiple CETs for one professional course by a Single National Entrance Exam. The recent case of NEET for Medical courses offering MBBS & BDS is a striking example. Similar attempts have been made for Management and Law courses as well. This has brought forth the central issue of syllabus for the National Entrance exams vis-a-vis State Boards syllabus. The syllabus of the national entrance exam in various subjects does not match or conform to the syllabus covered in the text books of State Boards and hence causes inconvenience and disadvantage to several students who appear for the exam. Most National Entrance exams conform to NCERT core curriculum norms which is not strictly followed by all State Boards. Hence, the crisis.
 
In order to resolve this crisis once and for all, it is proposed that for scientific or technical subjects like Maths, Science, Geography, Computers, Accounting, Economics, Environmental studies etc., there must be one syllabus for all the Boards of the nation from Std.1 to 12 as and when these topics are taught. All the Boards must follow the same text book for that subject at that particular Std. For example, the Mathematics text book of Std.7 must be same for all the Boards of the nation. There is no regional pride (PRADESHIK ASMITA in Marathi) which must be attached to teaching of scientific or technical subjects. This proposal is in line with the principle of ONE NATION – ONE SYLLABUS – ONE TEXT BOOK which is adopted by several advanced nations like Finland, Sweden, Norway etc. and also proposed by several eminent educationists and HRD Ministers in the past decade.
 
However, for subjects which have a social, cultural or political influence like Languages, History, Civics etc., the syllabus and text books must be different for different Boards as they shall reflect the regional and cultural diversity of the nation. Regional pride and cultural sentiments has a definitive place here and must be respected and honored.
 
For Maharashtra State which is currently grappled with the crisis of syllabus mismatch in Physics, Chemistry & Biology with respect to NEET exam, the solution lies in adopting the “Goa Model” immediately. The Goa State Board for the past 10 years has adopted NCERT books which are published by Goa State Board under their name with official permission from NCERT. A royalty may be paid to NCERT for doing so. The Maharashtra Higher Secondary Board (HSC) must do the same immediately for all scientific and technical subjects. This will uniform the syllabus of Maharashtra State Board with CBSE and National level Entrance exams and prevent any similar crisis that may occur in future for students of our State. It will also enable students of Maharashtra State Board to compete on an even keel with students of any other Board in India and thus boost their prospects.
 
The NEET crisis exposed the mismatch of syllabus and has ushered in a welcome change long overdue in our nation of ONE NATION – ONE SYLLABUS – ONE TEXT BOOK. Hence, the NEET crisis may turn out to be a blessing in disguise !!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

HOW TO STUDY PHYSICS FOR ENTRANCE EXAMS ?

The Entrance Exams to several professional courses like Engineering, Medicine, Architecture, Pharmacy, Pure Sciences etc. has Physics as one of the subjects. Physics is the foundation for learning almost all of Engineering and hence is an extremely important subject of Science. However, most aspirants of these Entrance exams struggle in studying Physics and find it tough. The least average marks in MHT-CET exam every year is in the subject of Physics. There are many reasons why Physics appears difficult to students and there are methods by which Physics can be made easy to learn. This article attempts to give an efficient approach to study Physics with ease.
 
1.  The first thing that must be appreciated about Physics is that it is a conceptual subject and solving problems in Physics means learning to apply the right concepts in an appropriate manner. Students struggle in Physics as they do not grasp the concepts in a systematic and rigorous manner.
 
2.  The other significant aspect of Physics problem solving is that it involves intelligent use of mathematical tools like Vectors, Graphs, Trigonometry, Theory of Equations, Co-ordinate Geometry and most importantly Calculus techniques of Differentiation, Maxima-Minima and Integration.
 
3.  The right sequence in which Physics must be studied is the following :
  • Units, Dimensions, Vectors & Working Knowledge of Calculus
  • Particle Mechanics
  • Rigid Body Mechanics
  • SHM, Gravitation and Elasticity
  • Fluid Mechanics
  • Thermal Physics
  • Electromagnetism & Circuits
  • Wave Mechanics
  • Optics
  • Modern Physics
The text books prepared by the HSC Boards do not conform to the above sequence in Std.11 & 12. This is one of the major reasons for students not following this master sequence to understand the subject of Physics which lands them into troubles with the subject.
 
4.  Solving any Problem in Physics involves a 4-step algorithm :
  • Identify key concepts & principles needed to solve the problem.
  • Model the problem in the form of mathematical equations. Get as many equations as unknowns.
  • Solve the equations to get the unknowns.
  • Interpret the answers in the language of Physics.
Students usually struggle in the first 2 steps in Physics. The remaining 2 steps are usually easy.
 
5. It is important to understand that any topic in Physics involves very few key principles. For example, in entire Particle Mechanics, there are only 4 key principles which the student must master to solve any problems viz. Kinematics, Force Dynamics, Work-Energy Theorem and Impulse-Momentum Theorem. Any problem in Particle Mechanics will involve one or more of the above 4 principles only. There is no 5th principle needed.
 
6. Another challenging part in solving Physics problems to students is how to use Calculus in solving problems in Physics. An important thing to realise is that those problems which involve a non-linear variation of one parameter with respect to the other would need Calculus techniques to handle them. If a set of parameters are cyclically linked in a phenomenon, then the use of Differential equations becomes necessary to analyse the same.
 
7. To master the art of solving Physics problems, a student must learn to visualise the situation in the problem and think which of the key concepts involved must be used. This type of thinking helps the student to initiate the process of problem solving.
 
8.  The student must learn to distinguish between the Physics part of the problem and the Mathematical part of the problem. Often, the student gets the Physics part correctly but gets stuck in the mathematical part. The Physics part has to be handled by using key Physics concepts and the Maths part by using key Mathematical tools. Which part in a particular problem is more challenging has to be clearly distinguished and tackled.
 
9. Solving large variety of problems in Physics and solving the same problem by various methods is an effective way to gain mastery in Physics.
 
10. For understanding theory, students must use classic text books in Physics like books written by HC Verma or by Resnick-Halliday or by Sears-Zemansky.
 
If the above points are kept in mind, the student will gain mastery in this fascinating subject of Physics which is the core of all Sciences.

Monday, February 1, 2016

MEDICAL ENTRANCE EXAMS SCENARIO

One of the most critical and often neglected areas which hugely influence the Medical sector in any nation is the criterion for selection of candidates to pursue Medical education. In India, this criterion is in the form of Medical Entrance exams after Std.12 for admission to undergraduate courses towards MBBS / BHMS / BAMS / BDS degrees in about 381 Medical colleges which is the highest number of Medical colleges in the world. There are about 64000 Medical seats of which about 25000 seats are in Government Medical colleges. About 8 Lakh Medical aspirants vie for these 64000 seats every year and thus the average selection ratio is 1:13.

There are more than 50 undergraduate Medical Entrance exams conducted by various State Governments, groups of private colleges and various agencies to these 381 Medical colleges due to which students and parents get confused and harassed to write so many exams. It has been observed that due to clash of dates and geographical distances and costs involved, the maximum number of Medical Entrance exams that any medical aspirant gives is 9. Thus, there is an urgent and dire need to reinstate a Single National Entrance exam called NEET (just as it happened in 2013) across India. The NEET was conducted successfully in 2013 but was struck down by the Supreme Court in a split verdict (2:1) in June 2013 citing lack of powers of MCI to conduct the NEET. However, all the 3 judges had praised the intention of NEET in larger interests of society.

The Union Health Ministry and Medical Council of India has approved plans to reinstate NEET from 2017 or 2018. However, an amendment in the MCI act is necessary which has to be approved by the Parliament. If that happens soon, the NEET exam shall become a reality and a new era shall dawn in the murky sector of Medical admissions.

The NEET will establish uniformity and help select good quality students to Medical colleges in India and shall save the labour, costs and complexities for students for having to write multiple exams. The reinstatement of NEET shall also make the medical admissions process transparent and end the rampant malpractices in the form of huge capitation fees which are charged by Private Medical colleges across the nation.

We must note here that a student who incurs undue huge costs for his Medical education harbours a tendency to recover it as soon as he emerges as a doctor in society. The common man in society unfortunately bears the brunt of this tendency amongst such doctors for years. The reinstatement of NEET from 2017 or 2018 is thus absolutely necessary to end this vicious sequence and bring clarity and uniformity in the Medical admissions process.

However, for 2016 there is no NEET and there are a host of Medical Entrance exams which aspirants shall have to write. A list of prominent exams is mentioned below:
  1. MH-CET: This exam is conducted by Directorate of Medical Education of Maharashtra State for admission to almost 30 Medical colleges of Maharashtra. The MH-CET shall be conducted on May 5, 2016 and has only Std.12 HSC syllabi in the subjects of Physics, Chemistry and Biology. There is no negative marking and the total paper is for 3 hours and 200 marks. A score of atleast 175 marks is necessary to gain admission in some Medical college for MBBS courses. For more details visit www.dmer.org
  2. AIPMT: This exam is conducted by CBSE and gives admission via 15% All India quota to over 300 medical colleges in India. This exam is typically of 720 marks and the syllabi is Std.11 & 12 combined in the subjects of Physics, Chemistry & Biology as per CBSE curriculum. The AIPMT has negative marking and a score of 480 marks and above is usually needed to gain admission in some Medical college. For more details visit www.aipmt.nic.in
  3. AIIMS: This exam is conducted by AIIMS-Delhi and gives admission to the 7 AIIMS colleges in India. This exam considered one of the toughest Medical Entrance exams in the world. For more details visit www.aiimsexams.org
  4. JIPMER: This exam is conducted by admission to JIPMER-Pondicherry. For more details visit www.jipmer.edu.in
  5. CMC-Vellore: This exam is for admission to Christian Medical College – Vellore. For more details visit www.cmch-vellor.edu.in
  6. MANIPAL: This exam is for admission to Kasturba Medical College – Manipal. For more details visit www.manipal.edu.in
  7. WARDHA: This exam is for admission to the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences. For more details visit www.mgims.ac.in
  8. COMED-K: This exam is for admission to Consortium of medical and dental colleges in Karnataka.  For more details visit www.comedk.org
  9. ASSO-CET: This exam is for a cluster of Private Medical & Dental Colleges in Maharashtra. For more details visit www.amupmdc.org

It must be noted that there is no weightage accorded to XII Boards marks for admission into any Medical college and admission is strictly granted only on the basis of marks and ranks achieved in these Entrance exams mentioned above. The exam forms are available online from December onwards of Std.12 and students must keep a keen watch on the notifications and deadlines on the respective websites.

Since the exam patterns and difficulty level of these exams are all different, it is wise for Medical aspirants to prepare for Std.11 & 12 syllabi upto AIIMS level of difficulty for every chapter. Thereafter, practice Tests for individual exams must be given to acclimatise themselves to various patterns. For MH-CET Biology, it is essential that students are thorough with each and every line of the Government HSC text books to score well in MH-CET.

It is also essential to note that medical aspirants make the mistake of ignoring Mathematics altogether. Knowledge of certain topics in Maths is essential for understanding several chapters of Physics and Chemistry. The topics in Maths which Medical aspirants must study at a basic level are Logarithms, Quadratic equations, Trigonometry, Functions & Graphs, Differentiation, Maxima-Minima, Integration, Differential Equations, Straight Line and Circle.

A student who studies Biology systematically and focuses on conceptual understanding of Physics & Chemistry and practices large number of Tests shall surely gain success in Medical Entrance exams.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

2016 ENGINEERING ENTRANCE EXAMS SCENARIO

In the past 15 years, there are major changes every 2-years or so in the Engineering Entrance Exams scenario at State and National level. There are about 3500 Engineering colleges in India having about 18 lakh seats of which about 350 Engineering colleges and 1.5 lakh seats are available in Maharashtra alone. Every year, about 8 lakh seats remain vacant in India of which about 50000 seats remain vacant in Maharashtra alone !  It must be noted that hardly 60000 seats belong to A-grade Engineering colleges across India. The constant changes in admission rules create confusion in the minds of students, parents and teachers. This article attempts to lend clarity to the admissions criteria for different Engineering colleges for the year 2016.
 
1) IITs : Admission to the IITs is on the basis of JEE ADVANCED All India Ranks only. Additionally, the student must score atleast 75% marks Aggregate of 5 subjects in XII Boards as eligibility criteria for admission to the IITs. IITs have about 10000 seats of which about 5000 are for General Category and 5000 for Reserved Category. An All India Rank of Top 6000 is usually required for admission into the IITs for an General Category student. 
 
2) BITS PILANI : Admission to BITS PILANI is on the basis of the BITSAT exam. But the student must score atleast 75% in subjects of PCM in XII Boards as eligibility criteria for admission to BITS. BITS have 3 campuses at PILANI, Goa and Hyderabad and 1800 seats. A score of 300 marks out of 450 marks is usually required to secure admission into BITS.
 
3) NITs / IIITs : Admission to NITs / IIITs for 2016 is on the basis of a complicated rule wherein 60% weightage is given to JEE MAINS marks and 40% weightage is given to XII Boards Aggregate marks. An All India Rank List is prepared on the basis of this 60-40 Rule and admissions are granted as per their Ranks. However, 3 Govt. panel experts have recommended scrapping of the 60-40 rule as it is highly flawed. Therefore, it is expected that from 2017 onwards, admission to the NITs & IIITs shall be on the basis of JEE MAINS marks only with zero weightage to XII Boards marks.
 
4) Maharashtra Engineering Colleges : Admission to almost all the 350+ Engineering colleges of Maharashtra in 2016 is on the basis of the following rule :
 
· Admission to 65% seats (State quota) is via MHT-CET exam
· Admission to 15% seats (All India quota) is via JEE MAINS exam
· Admission to remaining 20% seats is by Management quota
There is no weightage to XII Boards for 2016. The student is however expected to score 50% marks in PCM subjects as eligibility criterion. The famous college of COEP in Pune is an exception to the above rule. COEP admits 100% of its students by MHT-CET only. 
From 2017 onwards, the Union HRD Ministry has planned to again change the admissions criteria of IITs and NITs. As per media reports, there are plans of introducing an Online Aptitude Test based on Logic questions from which 4 lakh students shall be selected who shall appear in JEE after XII Boards. The JEE MAINS and JEE ADVANCED shall be merged into a Single JEE from 2017 and 40000 Ranks shall be declared who shall then be admitted into the IITs and NITs by a joint counselling process. A minimum of 2-years preparation is expected from students for all these Entrance exams in Std. 11-12. Students and Parents need to keep a tab on the changes happening in the Entrance Exams scenario and prepare for the same accordingly.

Friday, January 15, 2016

HOW TO PREPARE FOR JEE ?

The admission to the 30 NITs, 4 IIITs, DA-IICT and 15% All India quota to all the unaided and aided Engineering colleges in different States (like VJTI, MIT, VIT, ICT etc.) is on the basis of JEE MAINS exam. The JEE from 2013-16 is being conducted in 2 stages viz. JEE MAINS in April and JEE ADVANCED in May. About 13 lac students across India appear for the JEE MAINS of which 2 lac students are selected for JEE ADVANCED. The admission to the 19 IITs is based on the JEE ADVANCED. In Maharashtra, there are about 2.5 lac students who appear for various Engineering Entrance Exams like MHT-CET, JEE etc. of which only about 15000 students consciously prepare for JEE. The rest prepare only for XII Boards and MHT-CET exam. Thus, barely 6% of Engineering aspirants in Maharashtra prepare for JEE as against 75% in Andhra Pradesh and 90% in Delhi & Kota. Despite this, Maharashtra ranked No.3 in India in 2015 after Andhra Pradesh & Rajasthan in number of IIT Ranks produced State-wise. Thus, there is a clear need for building awareness of JEE in Maharashtra as the Pre-Engineering Foundation gets far better developed by studying for JEE rather than by simply studying for MHT-CET.
The JEE MAINS has 110 chapters in Maths, Physics & Chemistry whereas the JEE ADVANCED has about 100 chapters only. Both exams are Multiple-choice questions based with negative marking. The pattern of JEE MAINS is fixed with 90 questions and 360 marks to be done in 3 hours. The pattern of JEE ADVANCED is not disclosed before the exam and changes every year. The average level of difficulty of questions in JEE ADVANCED is higher as compared to JEE MAINS. The cut-off score for qualifying from JEE MAINS to JEE ADVANCED has ranged between 105-115 marks out of 360 in the past 3 years. The qualifying score for an IIT Rank in JEE ADVANCED exam is 35% marks.
When to start preparing for JEE?
The preparation for JEE can be done in 2-years period from Std.11-12. However, developing problems solving ability in 110 chapters in just 2-years is usually a stressful experience for most students. Hence, the ideal time to start JEE preparation is any given year from Std.8-10 so that there is no stress during Std.11-12. If the student invests atleast 1 year in IIT Foundation preparation either in Std.8 or 9, he would come out of the rote learning approach usually adopted in schools and shall be better oriented to understand the concepts of Math & Science. This shall help the student in Std.11-12 tremendously and would help him enjoy his studies rather than finding it as a burden. Enjoying the study process is the antidote to the stress which students nowadays suffer from!
What must be the study approach ?
In the first 16 months in Std.11-12, the student must focus on understanding basic concepts of the 110 chapters in JEE syllabi and learning to solve problems by applying these concepts in various different situations. The focus must be to solve problems of JEE ADVANCED level of difficulty which enables a student to easily solve JEE MAINS problems as well. The last 6-8 months must be invested in mastering the art of cracking the JEE exam by writing large number of Tests and analysing Test performance in detail after every Test. The student must evolve his own personal exam strategy in the course of these 6 months to crack the JEE. 
From which sources must the student study for JEE ?
There are broadly 3 sources from where a student can study for JEE.
1) Classroom coaching : This is the best avenue if the coaching institute has talented teachers as instant doubt clarifying happens, the right approach to learn is given and a vibrant peer group is readily available. However, the cost of education in coaching institutes is high and there are hardly 15 reputed coaching institutes for JEE in Maharashtra with centers in Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur & Aurangabad.
2) Postal / Study Material coaching : A student who is determined and can do self-study can prepare for JEE by purchasing good books for JEE available in the market or by enrolling for a postal program in a reputed National-Level coaching institute. JEE books published by Cengage, Arihant, GRB, Disha, JPNP, Bharti Bhuvan etc. are widely used by JEE aspirants across India.
3) Electronic coaching :  A student can enroll for e-Learning tools like video lectures, e-study material, e-Tests which again are available ONLINE or in tablet or pen drive formats.  This is an upcoming trend and is likely to become more popular within 2-3 years.
It must be noted that Self-Study for 6-8 hours daily for JEE is a must in Std.11-12 while studying by any of the above 3 methods.
Is it worth sacrificing fun in my 2 precious teenage years for JEE studies ?
Engineering studies of 4-years are based on JEE studies and not on CET studies ! Hence, ideally every Engineering aspirant must study for JEE during Std.11-12 and must cut down extra-curricular activities during this 2-years period. It is worth it as the student can enjoy his student life along with excelling in academics during the 4-years of Engineering. The choice for an Engineering aspirant is to either have fun in Std.11-12 and suffer in the 4-years of Engineering OR to study hard in Std.11-12 and enjoy in the 4-years of Engineering. The wise student will make the right choice accordingly.
JEE studies must however be perceived only by students blessed with high logical intelligence only. It is not the domain of the average student. Parents must keep this in mind before encouraging the student for JEE studies.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

2 RIVAL METHODOLOGIES TO PREPARE FOR MHT-CET

The MHT-CET for Engineering has been reintroduced from 2016 by the Govt. of Maharashtra after it was cancelled in 2014 & 2015. The MHT-CET is an Entrance exam in Maths, Physics & Chemistry for admission into the 4-years B.E. and B.Tech. Courses of all the 350+ engineering colleges in Maharashtra via the 65% State quota. The MHT-CET was first introduced hurriedly within 50 days in Maharashtra State in June 2004 following a shocking Supreme Court Ruling in April 2004. The introduction of MHT-CET replaced the importance given to XII Boards for admission to Engineering colleges from 2005-2013.  The same system is now being implemented from 2016 onwards.
 
There are about 2.4 lac Engineering aspirants in Maharashtra to about 1.5 lac Engineering seats in 350+ Engineering colleges of which about 50000 seats remain vacant each year. It must be understood that out of these 350+ Engineering colleges in Maharashtra, hardly 50 colleges may be considered as A-grade colleges wherein quality of education, peer group and job + further studies placements are respectable. So, the competition is sharp for these A-grade seats.
The MHT-CET in its present form has 57 chapters in PCM strictly of Std.12 HSC syllabus. The MHT-CET has 2 papers viz. Paper 1 of 1.5 hours comprising of Physics & Chemistry each having 50 questions totalling 100 marks. Paper 2 has Mathematics having 50 questions for 1.5 hours and totalling 100 marks. All questions are Single-Answer Multiple Choice questions based and have NO NEGATIVE MARKING. MHT-CET is perhaps the only Entrance exam in India without negative marking.
 
It has been observed that there are fundamentally 2 effective methods to prepare for the MHT-CET. Both these methods compete with each other and it will be interesting to witness which of the 2 methods emerges more successful from 2016 onwards.
The first method of preparation for MHT-CET comprises of studying from Std.11 onwards with gentle focus on Std.11 chapters which form the base for Std.12 syllabus. Then, the student studies Std.12 chapters and does practice of solving formula-based Objective questions i.e. of MHT-CET level of difficulty. Finally, a Crash course and Test Series for MHT-CET is taken by the student to improve exam strategies and exam time-management skills. Throughout the 2-years, the student focuses on college exams and mainly on the 57 chapters for MHT-CET. The student does not prepare for JEE and other National-level exams during these 2-years.
 
The second method of preparation for MHT-CET comprises of studying from Std.11 onwards for JEE and studying the 110 chapters of Std.11 & 12. The focus of such a student in the first 16-18 months from Std.11 onwards is to understand the concepts of every chapter deeply and learn to apply these concepts to diverse situations.  Thus, the student focuses on developing problems solving ability in the first 16 months. If a student can solve JEE level problems in any chapter, then he can easily solve any MHT-CET level question too in that chapter. This is the principal idea behind this method of study. However, Test practice of MHT-CET is a must to build requisite speed and exam temperament. Therefore, the student practices many Mock MHT-CET Tests 4-6 months before the MHT-CET exam.
 
From 2005-13, both methods have reported many successful stories in the MHT-CET exam. So we have a fair basis to predict that both methods will be successful and effective from 2016 onwards as well and hence they shall compete with each other. However, there is one major negative point with the first method.
 
The MHT-CET is a significantly easier exam than the JEE or any other National level exam. Questions in MHT-CET are information-based or formula-based and thus based on the paradigm,  Known Concepts – Known Problems”.  However, JEE exam is based on the paradigm, “Known Concepts – Unknown Problems” which is also the theme in all exams during the 4 years of Engineering and thereafter. Hence, a student who studies by the second method of JEE excels during the 4-years of Engineering since they have superior fundamentals. However, a student who studies by the first method of studying only for MHT-CET suffers from serious academic challenges (ATKTs etc.) during the 4-years of Engineering.
 
Hence, it must be understood that from the short-term point of view of getting admission in an Engineering college, both methods are effective. However, from a long-term perspective, students are advised to study by the second method of JEE only.