Tuesday, October 27, 2009

About IIT JEE - Applying, Studying and Cracking

IIT JEE is probably the toughest exam in the whole of Asia - the simple reason is that IITs are the best undergraduate institutes in the world. There are just ten thousand seats and lakhs of students vie for it (about 4 lakh students appeared for the exam last year). The competition is tough but to be an IITian is a dream for every engineering aspirant. Heres finding out how to crack the IIT JEE


Entry to IIT is based on one single exam and that is IIT JEE. Director of IIT Mumbai, Prof Devang Khakhar says, You have to be smart and work hard to enter IIT. It's important to know the concepts and fundamentals well to pass the IIT JEE exam. You must be thorough with the basics taught at HSC. Praveen Tyagi, MD, IITians Pace says, It comprises of class XI and XII Physics, Chemistry and Maths syllabus. The difference between board exams and IIT JEE is that you need conceptual clarity in the concepts involved.

When to start

Earlier, students began studying for IIT after Std X exams, that is the routine now too. But with competition getting tougher, students now begin attending coaching classes right from class VIII, XI and X. Praveen says, The syllabus of Std VIII, XI and X is almost same as Std XI and XII. A class VIII student learns the subjects in depth and in point of view of IIT. If that is stressing then you can start off immediately after Std X. Sincere students should take a lead by studying immediately , adds Praveen.

Applying for IIT

You will find ads in the newspapers announcing the IIT JEE. The forms for can be collected from State Bank branches from Oct-Nov . December end is the last date for the form submission and the admit card is sent to the students within a month. The IIT JEE is conducted in the month of April.

Get ready for the challenge

I started studying after class X exams. A lot of practice tests prepared me. You need a lot of self study in the form of solving problems, says Pararth Shah, first year student of IIT and 4th ranker of IIT JEE 2009. The exam is not as tough as it is said to be, says Pararth. Your concepts should be clear and you should be able to apply it in new ways. The paper pattern and format of questions is new every year, so you have to be ready for the challenge.

Develop analytical skills

In school exams you are only tested for memory, but here you need analytical and problem solving skills. Shailee Mehta , last year IIT Mumbai student, says, They want to know if there is concept clarity, analytical thinking rather than cramming of definitions. Problems are 99% never seen before so its not like recalling it and putting it on paper. Its more about applying the concepts you have understood. They want to solve the challenging problems in technology and so they want the best students.

Being cautious

Because the exams are popular, one must do a proper verification of the coaching class as many of them are known to advertise results of students who have never studied at their class. Also check if the classes have teachers who are former IITians. You can also talk to current IIT students to get the right guideline. Praveen Tyagi says that it is not necessary that the child has to score top marks in SSC to get in IIT. IIT is not cramming. Right guidance is necessary. In depth studies are necessary either through proper self study or guidance through a coaching class, he adds.

Can Schools be of any help?

Yes, reading through the article one can easily understand that cracking an IIT exam is not easy for all the students and the basic reason for this is that only good memory cannot help one to crack this exam. You should have the basic and in-depth understanding of the concepts and that you should be able to apply them in different situations. Since the paper is completely different every year only the students who have good application, critical and creative thinking skills can crack this exam like having a cup of coffee. If the teachers at school focus more on the concepts than the examination or syllabus every child could possibly become a superstar student and make every engineering school an IIT.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Never Compromise in Teaching Quality...

Mathematics is an integral part of life and it’s used everywhere. Recently, Maharashtra State Board introduced two levels of mathematics for Class X SSC board students. One will be regular maths and other will be general maths. The general maths level will be lower than regular maths. It’s not advisable to opt out or to use truncated syllabus for Math in Class X SSC Board Exam.

Availability of such options could make the Parents think that their child may not score well in Maths Class X SSC board exam or even fail in the subject. Due to this fear, they encourage their child to select general Maths. But this means that the child may not be able to choose the science or engineering field for his career. http://mail.google.com/mail/images/cleardot.gif Even if a child opts for Arts or Commerce, then also he/she will not be taken Maths in Class XI.

The mathematics taught year ago largely focused on teaching student how to perform procedures. Students were required to memorize definitions, formula and rules, and often they applied without any thought. Students were considered good at mathematics if they could “do math” quickly and without any thought. Today we know that for student to be able to use school mathematics outside the classroom, they must understand what they are doing. By understanding, I mean that they know not only how to perform option like long division but [also] why the procedure works and what the result means. This deeper understanding enables students to know when it is appropriate to use what they have learned.

Under the given circumstances, a teacher can play a very important role in clearing away the myths associated with the learning of Maths. The teacher can strive to make the child understand the abstract Mathematical concepts and their applications. To make the subject interesting, a teacher can try to relate a topic with other subjects like History, Art, Music, etc. If a teacher explains the application of Mathematical concepts in day to day life, the student can then understand and remember the concept more easily. The Teacher should teach in such a manner that develops the critical and creative thinking skills of the pupil. Also, the teacher can bring the child up to a certain level of understanding of a Mathematical concept, after which it’s up to a child to perform well or even crack the subject. For that, a child has to work on the subject with hard work - constantly and continuously.

For that, the Teacher has to foster such an environment in the class. I can think of a good old story that very well fits in here.

A German once visited a temple under construction where he saw a sculptor making an idol of God. Suddenly he noticed a similar idol lying nearby. Surprised, he asked the sculptor, "Do you need two statues of the same idol?" "No," said the sculptor without looking up, "We need only one, but the first one got damaged at the last stage." The gentleman examined the idol and found no apparent damage. "Where is the damage?" he asked. "There is a scratch on the nose of the idol." said the sculptor, still busy with his work. "Where are you going to install the idol?"

The sculptor replied that it would be installed on a pillar twenty feet high. "If the idol is that far, who is going to know that there is a scratch on the nose?" the gentleman asked. The sculptor stopped his work, looked up at the gentleman, smiled and said, "I will know it."

Like the sculptor of this story, it is the Teacher’s responsibility to practice excellence which will consequently improve the quality of teaching Mathematics.

Never compromise in Quality is indeed the need of hour.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Indian Educational Reforms II - Raising the JEE Eligibility Bar

Mr. Sibal is creating news again, this time it is about raising the bar for students who want to appear for Joint Entrance Examinations (IIT-JEE). Currently any student who has minimum 60% marks in the 12th standard with Science and Mathematics can appear for JEE.

Mr. Sibal is asking the committee to raise this eligibility bar to 80-85 %. The government says that they want to raise the bar not to make it prohibitive, but to squeeze out the hundreds of coaching institutes that sell hope to unrealistic aspirants. Also they want the students to give equal weightage to 12th standard examinations as it is believed that they are the foundation of the students career and life.

Of course coaching institutes who prepare the students for such entrance examinations are unhappy. There is also a confusion where one student group would believe that now they will have to study for two examinations and the other who believe that this is a good step as now they will be judged on an elevated criteria. There is also a mixed reaction from the parents where some believe it is a good step forward as it will save them money and of course the freedom from coaching classes.

Being an engineer myself and having graduated from one of the country's premier engineering institution, I have learned the hard way that there is a huge gap between the education which is provided by the schools/colleges and that is imparted through the private coaching classes. When we listen, hear or read about any schools results in our community today, I know and strongly believe that the school has acheived a certain result they boast only because their students go to a popular coaching class in the community after school.

The point I want to make is that why cannot the schools help the children the way in which coaching classes are helping the students?