Preparing to write the JEE Mains on Sunday? Strategise your approach to answering the multiple choice questions.
Class XII students, having just completed their Board examinations, are now getting into the last-minute preparation for the JEE Mains. This examination consists of a single paper consisting of questions from the test areas of Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. While the questions from these subjects carry equal weightage from the scoring perspective, students should keep in mind that it is the overall score that matters for better performance in this examination.
We shall look at some of the points to be kept in mind while you are doing the final run-up to this entrance examination. For students, it is a very large examination in terms of the spread of the competition — the registrations for JEE Mains had touched 14 lakh when the application window closed. Even for the CBSE, the entity that conducts the examination, this is a new high for a competitive examination.
Do not forget that the skills for solving the multiple choice questions (MCQ) variants are slightly different from the requirement. Quickly getting to the “what’s finally required of me” query is what should drive your approach while answering a question. So even while revising, the perspective is to quickly get to the key properties, formulae, equations rather than the entire theory behind the concept. While sitting with your journals/workbooks and revision tests, try to reconstruct the flow of topics from the work you have done or from the MCQ that you are working with.
The MCQ variants of a concept need not be always approached top down for problem-solving. Top down is the approach familiar with the students since they are fresh from the Board exams where detailing on paper is required. While solving MCQs, detailing needs to happen in the mind, quickly moving through steps/processes that can be short circuited. What this means practically while facing a question is to also consider the options given before lunging into detailed problem-solving. Sometimes the conditions given in the question will pre-empt the possibility of a couple of options springing up as answers.
Another angle to this approach that will pay dividends in the examination is to mindmap questions that are within your comfort zone of concepts and topics. This needs to be done during the first few minutes when you scan the entire paper. While there is no strict criteria that you must attempt the questions in any particular order of subjects within the window of three hours, try not to scamper around wildly as you would spend more than normal time to search for your marked questions.
Learn to let go
Do keep in mind that you are not in the examination to complete the paper. In fact, a smart test-taker should go in with the approach of targeting only about 80 per cent of the questions. This approach will clearly take away any unnecessary pressure build-up when you feel that you are unable to do the first few questions.
The penalty of choosing wrongly is actually a double edged sword. It robs you of the time you have invested — the opportunity cost of not attempting another question — and also “rewards” you with a negative mark.
If you have spent a couple of minutes on a “hard nut” and are still nowhere near the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, have the heart to let go. Letting go frees you from further under-utilisation of your precious time. And do not worry about the time you have under-utilised.
Most test-takers would have sub-optimally utilised the time at some point during the testing window. In a competitive examination, the key is to first attempt the questions you know and then move on to the other questions. There is no time for remorse.
The writer is director, T.I.M.E. Chennai.