There's a remarkabale difference between board exams and different entrance exams for admission to colleges and universities. Effective strategy and presence of mind will help you steer your way to success
With increasing competition among students, entrance examinations have become a transparent and dependable method to admit the creme de la creme of the lot. Thanks to these entrance exams, their future does not rely solely on their marks in the board examination but on other more relevant factors including aptitude, logic and reasoning, and most importantly good old common sense.
Entrance exams create a more level playing field for students as they prepare to enter the hallowed corridors of some of the best schools and colleges in the country. If the board exams papers are generally set keeping in mind the average school student, entrance exams pit against each other the best brains in the country, vying for a few seats. Tougher than the boards, it is of little wonder then that for most students preparing for entrance exams takes precedence over the board examinations.
When to start
The general rule about when to start preparing for an entrance exam is; the sooner the better. The IIT-JEE which is considered one of the toughest has students starting as early as class IX. For the medical entrance, CA CPT, and the various national law entrance exams, students start their preparations right from Class XI. BBA, hotel management, mass communication and some of the other such entrance exams are mostly aptitude based.
This means knowledge of subjects till class X is sufficient to do well in these tests. There is no checking on any specialised subject skills. Therefore, students can start preparing for them, even after they write their board examinations.
Board exams and competitive exams
Preparing for entrance exams and board examinations together may become a bit of a juggle for students and therefore effective mentoring holds the key to success. This is where joining a good test prep institute comes into the picture. Your time and effort are effectively channelised to prepare you for entrance exams.
Though there is no substitute for hard work, a test prep institute with ample experience can help you identify your weak areas, make you practice regularly, consistently monitor your progress, and help solve doubts whenever you get stuck. The material they provide would save a lot of time and hence provide for greater focus in the preparations.
For students who are confused about which colleges to apply to, the guidance at the test prep institutes is very handy. The faculty, peer network, students who have already appeared for the various entrance exams and a team of expert counsellors will all help you decide which entrance exams are right for you.
The entrance exams mode requires a drastic change in strategy and orientation for students compared to the board exams. Most of them are objective type. This needs a little bit of reorientation in the test taking approach. Cracking entrance exams is all about dedicated practice on test types that are relevant, followed by revision tests and feedback. You may follow some tips that will put you in good stead, no matter which entrance exam you are appearing for.
Start thinking about a strategy. The strategy of taking an objective test with time constraints is very different from appearing in the board exams. You need to play to your strengths. You need to learn to skip questions. You have to identify the areas you are not so comfortable with. It is advisable to experiment in your practice tests.
Most often than not, students stick to the "board way" of taking a test and therefore end up attempting far fewer questions than they actually can. Learn to master multiple choice questions. Multiple choice questions (MCQs) are very different from subjective questions. They provide for a lot of intelligent guesswork. So one needs to consciously ask while analysing tests, "Is there a way to answer this question using the choices?"
Once you get a hang of this approach you would see the attempts in tests increasing manifold. Time management holds the key in all entrance exams. The core value of effective time management is focusing on the right things. Remember the '80:20 Rule'. Usually 80 per cent of unfocussed efforts generate merely 20 per cent of results meaning the rest of the 80 per cent results are attained with 20 per cent efforts only. Focus and effective time management can be critical for your final score.
Revise all the fundamental concepts and identify and attempt as many types of questions as possible in a given topic. This helps build focus and understand the concepts of each section in detail. Analyse the marking pattern for the exams that you're appearing for. Negative marking means you must select questions you think you can answer, with care. If the paper does not have any negative marking, try and answer all questions, even if you're not sure of the answer.
Appearing for entrance exams, right after the boards may be a little stressful for students. They must intersperse study plans with breaks and unwinding sessions so that they don't lose focus or worse, suffer a burnout. Saving the best tip for the end, students need not take too much of pressure or exert themselves on the D-Day.
One of the critical hinges as in any other test is to maintain one's cool while taking the test. Remember there are many questions that you can attempt. Do not get stuck at questions that take inordinately long time. The best attempts are made by those who manage to read through the entire paper. You can do that only if you master the art of test taking. All the Best!
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