IIT JEE is most prestigious and sought after exam that a science student takes in his formative years. It is a different exam because the questions asked are original and unconventional .This in a way contrasts board examination pattern. Unlike boards, the aim of Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) is to test the analytical skills and grasp on subjects. Before I dwell into the details, let us understand how study of science is different from other streams like commerce and humanities.
As you know the word science is derived from Latin word “scientia” which means “TO KNOW”. In German language the verb ‘to know’ is associated with two verbs Kennen (to Know a person or thing) and WIssen (to know a fact). This clearly makes a distinction between just knowing for information and knowing with understanding. These two steps are general to every purposeful study. However, in study of science one must be able to analyze and apply this understanding in solving problems of numerical and conceptual nature and at this point most of the people reach a road block. How often you hear people say “I can understand the theory but can’t solve the numerical”. This is because they are able to remember and reproduce but are not developed enough to analyze and apply.
Almost all who manage to get into science stream start off with a dream of IIT- JEE. It is perfectly rightful and legitimate to aspire and dream for the best, but it should be understood that fulfillment of every dream requires endless effort with open eyes. Every JEE aspirants must recognize that it is demanding and tough even if you are a genius.
Myth 1: Basics are for meek: As I have pointed earlier study of science is about four basic steps know, understanding, analyzing and applying. Analysis and application will come only when basic understanding of concepts is in place. It is sad that after passing class XII half of the students do not know what friction is and how to account for it , It is not clear to them how and where to apply the laws of conservation , how to account for constraints . What I want to stress is, first clear your basics about theory and concepts from a good reference book before tackling objective type problems from course material of institutes. NCERT is not something you should pick up in the month of February for boards . Blind problem solving is not going to take you anywhere; you cannot learn science by copying solutions from black board.
Myth 2: Questions asked are very complex and mathematical: Don’t believe me, just pick the papers of last 33 years of IITJEE and see how many problems require mathematical rigor. The paper checks comprehension and application and not the calculation ability. Last year there were 28 Problems in physics paper, if a student has to read, understand and solve these many number of problems naturally calculations cannot be complex. In the process of preparation we become so overwhelmed by the complex problems that we cannot appreciate and accept that a problem can be simple and based on some combination of very simple concepts. Trust me; wise people setting the paper know that they are testing the school pass outs.
Myth 3: Coaching is substitute to hard work: Many people develop this misbelieve that joining some institute has exempted them from requirement of hard work. Coaching to an extent helps because the expert faculties by their experience channelize your energy on training you for desired skills by presenting a variety of problems that broaden your vision. It also saves a lot of time that you would have spent in knowing and understanding, the time saved there can now be utilized in applying the knowledge in solving variety of problems. Until and unless you do variety of problems both conceptual and numerical you are not going to get the grasp on the subjects. Coaching can at the most convert your hard work into smart work, provided in words of Prof. Walter Lewin “it attempts to uncover a lot then just to cover a lot”. No one can make an IITian out of a mediocre who is not putting requisite labor. Don’t be misled by fancy advertisements and misleading half lies projected by most of the institutes. Remember magic, is in you, institute can sharpen your skills but only your work will ensure success at the end of the day. How right was Albert Einstein who said “If my theory of relativity is proven correct, Germany will claim me as a German and France will declare that I am a citizen of the world. Should my theory prove untrue, France will say that I am a German and Germany will declare that I am a Jew”. So, if you succeed there will be many mentors who will leap to take the credit for your success brazenly sidelining your labor, and if you don’t succeed, well, nobody will own the responsibility of your failure. Can’t help it after all we live in a land where only rising sun is worshiped. (Sarcasm intended, please do not take it in religious sense).
Every child is different, some are good in expression, some are brilliant in calculations, and some love everything in detail while some are content with superficial and reckless specifications. It is naïve on parents’ part to take the board percentage into consideration in deciding about stream of study for their wards. The decision should be based on aptitude and orientation of child.
Lastly remember “Scope lies in the man and not in the degree he holds”. Though it sounds out of place here but I can’t conclude without stressing that role of education is to make a good human and a good citizen. If we can’t make sensitive humans who have compassion for fellow inhabitants and nature then the technology surely will do more harm than good.