I recently completed the journey that many of you would be embarking upon, or must have already completed by now. I am talking, of course, about the two years of JEE Advanced Preparation. I cracked JEE on the basis of rigorous self-study. Some esoteric texts bearing mystic knowledge have the warning- ‘the unskilled practitioner runs the risk of being struck by a reflux current and getting destroyed.’ Well, it’s an exaggeration, to say the least, but the same holds true for JEE Advanced. As a self-studying aspirant, I have probably committed more than my fair share of mistakes. It is in this spirit that I pen this article on the common mistakes that all aspirants should avoid in their JEE Advanced preparation.
Mistakes You Should Avoid In Your JEE Advanced Preparation
1) Using far too many reference books: Reference books cannot be replaced by any coaching modules or class notes for your JEE Advanced preparation. However, use too many of them, and you will find your head swimming with the plethora of unanswered questions behind those covers. Too many books will also make it difficult to revise when the time comes. Instead, use fewer reference books, but choose them with wisely. If you get time after your syllabus, by all means, go for more practice. But for the initial finishing up of the syllabus, definitely stick to the lesser-in-number, but better-in-quality reference books.
2) Getting frustrated over the dull routine: I am not saying this to discourage anyone, but the path to IIT is not always filled with roses. The ups and downs will be a part of these 2 years. All you’ll do is study, eat and sleep. Sometimes, it just might get a bit monotonous. And it’s very easy to get frustrated and stray down another road. Let me tell you – stick to your goal for a couple of years. You may face moments of elation, depression and extreme frustration. See it through, guys. Believe me, the reward that comes after those 2 years will be sweet enough to make you forget all the hardships.
3) Leaving Inorganic chemistry for the final 3-4 months of JEE Advanced preparation: This is one of the biggest blunders any aspirant can commit. The common mindset is – “Oh, inorganic chemistry is only about mugging up reactions; I’ll do it near the end of my preparation. So, that way it’ll stay fresh in my mind for the upcoming exams.” Wrong! Inorganic chemistry is about more than just mugging up reactions; it’s also about beautiful stuff like Co-ordination compounds, Qualitative Inorganic Analysis, Chemical bonding, etc.
Leaving the beauty of studies aside, it’s about 15-20% of the chemistry paper in both JEE (Main) and Advanced. 15-20% of easy, time-saving and effortless marks; worth your while to give a bit more respect for it, don’t you think? Complete Inorganic well beforehand, and keep revising from the day you finish your syllabus. All toppers study this section very seriously, which makes a lot of difference in the neck-to-neck competition to reach the top of JEE rank charts.
4) Focusing exclusively on two subjects from the beginning of prep: This is the most common mistake I have seen in my fellow freshmen here at IIT Bombay. Many of them tell me stories about how they were ‘God-level’ in one or two subjects, but ‘never even studied the remaining one/two subjects’. Most of these people landed up with not-so-‘god level’ ranks, and the reason is obvious: JEE is unpredictable. Examiners have the ability to set questions that can make the best of us sweat. So, never trust just one or two subjects to fetch you a decent rank.
5) Leaving questions on the calculation stage: This one ended up costing me dearly. Again the general mindset is – ‘Now it’s plain-sailing after this: it’s only calculation. Let’s leave it at this stage during practice; I’ll be able to attempt more questions that way.’ Believe me; it’s better to do fewer questions with all calculations than do more questions without calculations. It will improve your speed and simultaneously help you to improve your accuracy.
6) Setting a timetable in stone: Get up. Eat. Study. Give tests. Eat. Study. Eat. Sleep. Feels monotonous even to read this, right? It is precisely what your preparation phase should NOT become. Study when you want to, and more importantly what you want. That does not mean you study probably the entire day! But rather study intelligently and avoid monotony in any aspect of your preparation. Watch TV for some time in your break. Play some sport. Go for a stroll. Basically, indulge in some recreational activity between two long study sessions.
7) Straying too far away from the syllabus: Coaching classes do it. Reputed profs do it. Students themselves do it. And yes, this is one of the major mistakes almost everyone commits. The syllabus for JEE is defined very clearly. And JEE will NEVER ask questions beyond that syllabus. So, instead of spending time reading advanced things about your favorite topic, the sensible thing would be to utilize that time strengthening concepts in your JEE syllabus.
8) Following your coaching class instructions blindly: Well, as a self-studying student, I was immune to this mistake. But yes, it is one of the major mistakes made by aspirants enrolled in coaching. Classes often take you beyond the scope of the JEE syllabus. Their tests are designed to keep you from becoming over-confident. But many times, this has a negative impact on your prep. Coaching classes over-emphasize their modules and notes. But the truth is, class notes and practice modules can never replace a good reference book.
9) Spending time on simple topics during revision: In all honesty, topics like complex numbers, matrices, determinants, etc. do not require much revising. The best thing to do is to keep a formula/revision sheet with the major concepts of these topics written on it. Revise this sheet, instead of going for the book time and again. For example, you can just revise the expansions of standard determinants, and conditions for a different solution (i.e. Cramer’s rule) from the chapter determinants.
10) Feeling afraid of looking back at your mistakes: I have made this mistake in my JEE Advanced preparation almost every time I gave a test. I never evaluated my papers as I was afraid of having committed some silly mistake. Guys, don’t be afraid of your mistakes. Learn from them. Evaluate each and every question where you committed a mistake. Don’t run away from errors; otherwise, they’ll creep in everywhere, and then there won’t be any getting away from it.
That’s it from my side, folks. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section. Study hard and all the very best!