After interacting with a lot of students, I realized that most students fail not due to a lack of knowledge, hard work or intelligence, but because of a lack of guidance, planned approach and poor study techniques. So, the problem most students face is not of potential, but of converting that potential into performance. Success in study depends not only on capability and hard work, but also on using effective methods for the same. Apart form working hard, success today demands for working smart as well. This article will help you establish new goals, develop a new sense of purpose, and generate new ideas on how you can achieve your goal of clearing the IIT entrance Exam.

We have strategically divided this note into 4 basic steps

Step 1: Making a plan for IIT entrance Exam

Preparing for IIT entrance exams is like a war where thousands fight for the same seat & only a few manage to succeed. The first step is to keep a positive attitude and have firm determination to achieve your goals. Somebody has rightly said "if you can perceive it, your mind can believe it, only then you can achieve it."

The next step is to build a sound & feasible plan for your preparation. Would you go for a movie without planning it? (Which movie, which show, how to go, etc.) Or, in other words would you sit in a bus without knowing where it is going? The obvious answer to both questions is 'No'. But then why do most of us go ahead with our preparation of IIT entrance Exam without any plan? Remember, behind every success there is a concrete plan. While making a plan:

• Divide your entire time for preparations and put it into a reasonable time chart, with milestones in between to help plan your studies accordingly. Do not overestimate the time you have. If you actually have extra time on your hands you can always do more studying, but if you plan more than what you actually have, you will feel depressed and your entire plan might go haywire. You are also advised to leave free time in between, so that if any module gets delayed, you don't have to change the plan.

• Study the trends of the previous year's question papers for IIT entrance Exam & draw up a marks distribution table for each subject to find out which topics are most important & which are least. Give priority to the important topics & try to cover them in the early stages of your preparation in order to avoid any possibilities of them being left out.

• Review your plan for IIT entrance Exam preparation periodically to find out if there are any lapses & how you can cover them up.

Step 2: Strengthening fundamentals for IIT entrance Exam

• Since most of the questions in IIT entrance examinations are based on fundamentals & their applications, so the first logical step is to establish a solid base by mastering the fundamentals. For mastering fundamentals you have to be focused. Don't join too many courses or purchase too many books. Decide on a particular course or book only after discussing it with your seniors & friends and then stick to it.

• When you start a new chapter, the learning curve is slow. This means you will not be able to accomplish similar amounts of learning every day even if you spend the same amount of time each day. Remember, learning always happens in blocks, and before a block can be completed a certain amount of hard work has to be done. So, even if your learning process is slow, keep studying day on day, without getting discouraged, to achieve success.

All the subjects in case of an IIT entrance Exam are equally important. Devote more time to subjects/topics you are weak in (remember, most of us tend to devote more time on areas we are strong & often shy away from our weaknesses). In case of IIT entrance Exam, minimum qualifying marks are allotted to each subject. Hence, make sure that you do not ignore any subject & allocate adequate time for each.

Step 3: Strengthening the application of fundamentals for IIT entrance Exam

• Quality is more important than Quantity: While preparing for an IIT entrance Exam, doing 100 quality, concept based questions is more important than doing 1000 questions that have not been selected carefully. Remember that while preparing for an IIT exam the focus should be on sharpening your problem-solving skills. Start with the conventional methods of problem solving, but improvise constantly & build your own shortcuts & ways of tackling a problem.

• While practicing for the IIT entrance Exam, always try to solve problems on your own. If you are unable to solve a problem, do not hurry to consult the solution. Study the relevant theory again, paying attention to the finer points and keeping the problem in the back of your mind. Experience shows that studying a theory with a definite problem in mind is very effective and also helps sharpen problem solving skills. Remember that directly going through the solutions is not going to help you at all. The key to achieving success in an IIT entrance Exam does not lie in understanding the solution to the problem, but in trying to find out which clues in the problem can help lead you to the right explanation. In case you are unable to solve a problem, try finding out the reason by analyzing the level of complexity of the problem and then practice similar kinds of problems, so that you can master the tricks involved.

• While problem solving for IIT entrance Exam, try to strengthen and develop your conceptual understanding by analyzing deeply and correlating the problems with real life situations.

• While practicing, identify your strong & weak areas (subject wise/topic wise/question wise). Testing your preparation chapter by chapter can help accomplish this. With the help of a structured test, you should be able to diagnose which chapter, which concept & what type of problems you need to practice more.

Step 4: Strengthening speed/strike rate & examination temperament

• Attempt each exercise and each question keeping time in mind. Always remember that in an IIT entrance Exam it is not important whether you can solve the questions correctly or not, but it is important whether you are able to solve them in the shortest possible time. Always keep track of your average speed when solving questions.

• Participating in identical test series helps in time & temperament management while preparing for IIT entrance examinations. It has been observed that most students lose 8 to 10% of their marks not because they do not know the subject, but because they fail to apply the basic concepts correctly. This is basically due to examination fear & pressure. These marks, which a student looses because of silly mistakes like calculation errors, getting confused, failing to apply the right concepts, and solving problems using the long method, can be reduced if a student regularly participates in test series based on the pattern & level of competition in IIT entrance Exam. Students can also simulate IIT entrance Exam like conditions in their homes too.

• Please remember that both speed & strike rate are important for success in IIT entrance examinations. Continuously develop the ability to do things quickly & accurately.

• After each test, analyze your performance thoroughly.

• Keep interacting with people who are also preparing for the IIT entrance Exam. Since this examination is on a National level, it is important to compare your preparation with your peers across the country.

In short, we can say that "An IIT entrance Exam is not necessarily a test of knowledge of the basic fundamentals alone, but it is a test of the application of knowledge to solve surprise problems with perfect time & temperament management."

These suggestions may seem to be ordinary advice, but they are time tested & will definitely benefit any student who practices them sincerely. Consistent study of about 6 to 7 hours a day, along with proper planning can help even average students achieve success in IIT entrance Exam. And remember, there are no shortcuts to success. Success is not something which you will find lying on the roadside. Success demands lots of sacrifice, discipline and hard work. As Henry Ford rightly said "The harder you work, the luckier you get"

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