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Is the lessened focus on school while preparing for JEE justified?

Why settle for less?
Why settle for less?

On the eighth of April 2016, people who had prepared for JEE, between 2013-15 sighed out a collective groan. “JEE 2017 and onwards, board marks will not have any weightage in JEE Main ranks”, the official statement was out from the MHRD ministry. The curse had been lifted. Having to prepare for boards, for getting into an engineering institution had been critiqued by many aspirants and pundits alike. Having to prepare for, and focusing on boards was seen as a chore, something very monotonous and unnecessary. The lessened focus on school while preparing for JEE will no longer come back and haunt them.

 Is it that way, though? 

JEE and/or KVPY aspirants mostly tend to not focus on school and preparations related to boards. While the course and paper structure of JEE is a lot more complex than boards, boards do not fall into the category of optional. On the contrary the board exams are easier to score in and focusing on that portion thoroughly, will give you basic knowledge about the topics you need to learn in depth for JEE. If you are from CBSE board focusing on school will be an advantage as the NCERT curriculum is followed. This is nearly identical to the JEE course so there’s nearly no reason to skip it. If you belong to boards other than CBSE, you should not neglect boards either. Though not the same, the syllabus is somewhat similar and any time dedicated to a topic in JEE syllabus will help you, whether you are doing it for boards or JEE itself. Even with little efforts and focus on school one can reap rich rewards. But why should I even devote even a fraction of my time to boards. There is no weightage now,is there? When an aspirant cannot manage time well enough the first topics to be struck of his/her list are the board related. Fair enough.

There is no “weightage”, but there are cutoffs. People who want to appear for JEE advanced, have to clear a cutoff of 75%. BITSAT needs above 80% overall and above 85% in the total of physics, chemistry and maths marks. Many universities use boards as a cutoff criterion, many scholarships, like INSPIRE for example, are awarded for excellence in boards. If you are in it for the long haul and plan to do masters, in India or otherwise, boards might prove to be the tipping point between your and your competitor’s resume. Having high grades in school do not hamper your chance with foreign universities, who search for this quality, among many.

Secondly, just because you are facing JEE , doesn’t mean your education and growth as a person should stop. Your lessened focus on school while preparing for JEE will hinder that. Despite what your coaching class instructor tells you, there is more to being educated than knowing the sciences. A sizeable populace at IITs suffer because they don’t have basic writing, coding or communication skills. This is something which will always give you an edge and can only be achieved (properly), in school. Personality development cannot take place when you are alone at your home. Attending dummy schools might give you some hours but in the long haul you are losing value, maybe not as an aspirant but as a member of the society.

While focusing on school, along with your preparations is ideal and I wholeheartedly support it, you must not lose focus of the actual goal, doing well in JEE and KVPY and other such exams. It is some extra work but the rewards of those hours are manifold. On the contrary not going that extra mile does increase the risk. Theonly way to make this work is by rigorous time management and hard work. If you do put in that extra bit of focus, on your school the end product will be LEGEN…wait for it….DARY.

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All the best!

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