Entrance exams are often a deciding factor in the results of university admissions. At the same time, your board exams are equally important as your 12th class marks stay with you for the rest of your life.
Now, since the two are nearly as crucial, the most common question that arises in a student’s mind is, “How do I effectively manage both boards and entrance exam preparation together?”
Students often juggle their way between these two and sometimes end up losing focus on both. The exam preparations for engineering and medicine programs are particularly affected by this dilemma, not to say that students from other streams have it easy. While the art of balancing does vary according to your stream and ultimate goal, there are some common strategies that can prove beneficial to all exam preparation journeys.
So, here are a few pointers to help you make your study more effective and manage both entrance and board exam preparation together.
1. Find the Common Element
Some entrance exams would have some common elements with your academic subjects and you can use this to your advantage. Start by first jotting down all the commonalities, i.e. common areas/topics. Then you may dedicate at least a few hours a day for the board curriculum and prepare from scratch, and whenever common elements/topics appear, dedicate a few more hours to read them in-depth and practice questions for your entrance exam. This will bolster your exam preparation strategy. This will not only save time but will help you develop more in-depth knowledge about important common topics.
2. Customise Your Preparation
Making strategies and finding common elements with the board syllabi is a lot easier for science entrance exams such as the JEE and NEET, but what about the other exams?
Most other entrance exams don’t directly evaluate you on your syllabi, but on more broad elements such as general awareness, quantitative/numerical aptitude, english language skills, logical reasoning, etc. Some exams also evaluate elements specific to the course, such as legal aptitude for CLAT, media aptitude for media and communication exams, design aptitude for NIFT, NID, and other design exams, and so on.
The command over these cannot be attained overnight and has to be developed over time with consistent and rigorous exam preparation modules. For students focusing only on these exams, it is recommended to study for 1-2 hours a day for these apart from your board preparation.
And for all others, no matter what, try at least spending half an hour of your day reading through newspapers as well as articles related to business, media, or law, depending on the entrance exam that you are preparing for.
3. Do a Mock Analysis
One of the ways to make optimal use of the time that one dedicates toward exam preparation, regardless of the academic discipline, is to attempt mocks. However, mocks only benefit you if you diligently analyze your performance. The analysis is crucial, and unless you figure out your weak areas and strengths, the whole practice attempting mocks is futile.
Your analysis will help you identify topics where you take the maximum time, topics you are good at, and will also help find out areas where understanding the question is more important than framing an answer. Observing these patterns can help you a lot with utilising your time efficiently and revising your subjects.
As far as the exam preparation for your board examinations is concerned, sitting for mocks is a good way to score a high percentage, but don’t overdo it. Plan to attempt 1-2 mocks a week in the last 2 months before your board exams and focus more on reviewing your performance. A good mock review will equip you with a better understanding of topics and streamline your exam preparation on the basis of your strengths and weaknesses.
4. Prioritize, not Balance
While you know both entrances and boards are important, don’t make the inference that you have to balance both all the time. Learn to prioritize one over the other and prepare a schedule by accordingly alloting time to both.
If you know that the admission to your target colleges is through merit, your board examination should be a greater priority, and other entrances should be treated as a backup. On the other hand, if you are trying to get into colleges that have entrance exams, then invest more in it, while giving the required attention to score well enough in board examinations too (but not aiming for an exceptionally high percentage).
Don’t travel without proper vision. Always know what is it you want more, and what is the best way to achieve it. Thus, awareness about your goal would help you prioritize.
5. Know Where You Stand
We generally follow what our friends and peers follow, and think if they are able to ace something, then “why not me?” But there are factors such as aptitude, study pattern, retention power, etc. that differ from person to person. You can never adopt your friend’s style and expect the same level of efficiency. Instead, you should focus on identifying your own style and plan things accordingly.
Let’s take an example to understand this better. You and your friend are preparing for engineering exams, and you are someone who has not been serious in class 11 and, thus, your basics are not clear. Your friend, on the other hand, has been a consistent student throughout these 2 years. Do you think, the strategies for both of you should be the same? No, right?
While he should focus more on mocks and advanced questions, your focus should be on clearing concepts and practising more questions.
So how can we analyse our own style?
You can utilize constructive information about it by analysing mocks and understanding your shortcomings. You should also talk to as many people as possible to understand why a particular strategy works for them and derive patterns to identify your own. Talk to your teacher and ask them what they think about your strengths and how you can focus on certain elements for better results.
6. Utilize the Time After (and Between) Boards
This is one of those things everybody is aware of but don’t always implement it. Usually, students become carefree after board exams and often lose focus on maintaining the same strategy for entrance exams. Long breaks after your boards can affect your efficiency and you are likely to take a longer time to bring back your flow and concentration.
Of course, you can take a break for a few days to relax, but don’t lose touch with your studies during that time. Try to push yourself and effectively utilise the time after your boards, since they will be the most crucial days/weeks for your entrance preparation.
Also, there are many times when there is a lot of gap between 2 consecutive board exams, and we know those many days aren’t really required as you would have already done the preparation (and revised) many times. So, utilise those days better by taking out some time for your entrance preparation.
Be it board exam preparation or entrance exam preparation, one must work in a diligent and smart manner in order to optimize their performance on these tests. Be thoroughly aware of the structure of the exams that you intend to appear for, starting from the pattern, eligibility, mark distribution, and an in-depth understanding of the subjects involved.
For example, a student preparing for the JEE examination needs to have at least 75% marks in class 12th to qualify for all IIT’s/NIT’s/ IIIT’s. Lack of awareness about this could have serious ramifications.
Strive to put your best foot forward and persevere to be the best version of yourself, you got this!