The announcement made by CBSE on February 3, 2017 stood in good stead for previous NEET candidates across the country; their past attempts will not be counted while applying for the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) exams from this year onwards. However, with this, the competition is bound to increase imperatively. A jaw-dropping 10 lakh candidates are expected to attempt India's most important medical exam in May, 2017. This increased competitiveness has made dropping and repeating a more alluring option for medical aspirants. To crack the exam next year, students and their mentors will require a specific strategy and the right approach. Listed below are some tips for NEET aspirants who are going to drop or repeat this year:
Identify your shortcomings: In order to attain success, students need to analyse their strengths and weaknesses and devise a method to make the most out of them. They need to create a strong roadmap to gradually eliminate or, at least, minimise the impact of such limitations. For eg., if a student has good retention and weak problem solving skills, he/she must constantly learn and revise theoretical questions to increase their score while also alloting more time to exercising numerical questions from recurring concepts.
Time management: Time management is a key attribute for cracking any competitive exam. Despite having a great potential, students often fail to crack an examination because of their misconception of not having ‘adequate time’. Create a timetable and a timeline for course completion and revision and work towards its strict implementation right from day one. Optimally manage time and make room for physical exercise and performance enhancing activities such as meditation. You can also opt for an online coaching crash course instead of traditional classes if you have attended them during the previous year. This will not only help you save time and prove cost-effective, but will also help avoid a lot of distractions.
Be unconventional: Instead of needlessly memorising concepts and theorems, look towards their application in objective questions and numerical problems. Also, do not stick to old study patterns. Utilise smart pedagogical methods to stay ahead of the curve. Many questions can be solved using shortcut techniques. Students must note down all such techniques and regularly revise them. Learning creative methods to solve questions faster, such as Vedic mathematics, and using learning aids for retention can also be beneficial for students. Steer clear of monotonous study patterns and focus on their weaker areas first. Gradually advance to the stronger segments.
NCERT-based preparations: Your basic strategy must not sway from NCERT course books. Around 70 to 80 percent of the overall questions in such examinations either come straight from NCERT textbooks or are their advanced derivatives. Make sure that you master each and every topic, concept, and question in it before graduating to reference books. Also, constantly revise them later.
Question banks and Mock Test papers: Pick up new question banks and solve as many problems as possible. If you are planning to drop this year, then do so after completing each and every concept. Doing so will enable you to effectively apply your learnings. It will also help you to explore unique set of questions and new approach methods. Begin with solving 50 questions in 50 minutes and progressively increase speed. While attempting mock test papers, stick to the time limit and complete the question paper within the designated time frame. If a particular subject is more demanding, then give it additional time during the test and work on that area later. There is no strategy better than regularly challenging yourself and identifying your shortcomings.
Additional reference books: The importance of additional question banks and mock tests at this juncture is immense. However, the same cannot be said with regards to reference books. Since you might have used a few reference books previously, you must follow the same suit this time. Hence, you must not get tempted to pick up additional reference books and study materials at this stage. Doing so can complicate your approach technique and increase confusion as different books employ different techniques for same question. Additionally, limited number of books will also give you more time for revision and strengthen your skills.
Stay motivated: Last but not the least, do not get caught up by the entire course that you have to revise once again. It might seem like a daunting task to give it a fresh start, so make sure that you remain motivated. Your goal is all the more achievable considering the fact that you also have experience to benefit from. Prepare yourself psychologically and make sure that you adhere to your timeline. It will boost your confidence significantly. With more than a year remaining, it is much easier for you to crack NEET examination. However, this is only possible if you firmly stick to your strategy right from the beginning.
The author is Aakash Chaudhry, director, Aakash Educational Services Pvt. Ltd